Do White Blood Cells Have a Nucleus? 7 Facts You should Know


This article will investigate the question, “Do white blood cells have a nucleus?” and will identify seven detailed facts associated with the nucleus of white blood cells. 

White Blood cells (WBCs) are identified as the immune cells that engage in fighting with various infections and diseases in the body. WBCs are distinguished from other cells in blood with the help of the nucleus which are large and lobbed.

Do all white blood cells have a nucleus?

White Blood cells are also known as leukocytes and are found distributed throughout the body, including the blood system as well as the lymphatic system. Based on the physical appearance, White Blood cells are of two types granulocytes and agranulocytes and all the subtypes under both the broad types contain nucleus or nuclei.  

The presence of nucleus helps in distinguishing the white blood cells from the other cell types in blood, which are red blood cells (RBCs) that lack a nucleus and the platelets. 

do white blood cells have a nucleus
Types of Blood cells: Wikimedia

Do mature white blood cells have a nucleus?

Mature white blood cells have been identified to have nucleus or nuclei based on the types of function the cells would engage in. Unlike the red blood cells that do not have nucleus in the matured cells, the white blood cells retain them. 

Based on the types of white blood cells, there are two types, the granulocytes and agranulocytes. Under granulocyte, the neutrophils have two to five lobes, eosinophils have two lobes which are non-segmented and basophils which have double-lobed on maturity. Under agranulocytes, the monocyte and lymphocyte have only one nucleus on maturity. 

Why do white blood cells contain nucleus? 

It is identified that DNA is stored within the nucleus of a cell which in turn helps in making protein for the body to acquire a defined shape and conduct appropriate functions. The white blood cells contain nucleus and hence, have the ability to produce ribonucleic acid (RNA) and then synthesise protein.

The white blood cells need to engage in producing antibodies in order to go and attach to the antigens or pathogens to be eliminated from the body. In addition to this, transport proteins would need to be produced as well which would need the protein being synthesised by the nucleus. 

Surface receptors are also needed to be produced by the WBCs in order to engage in complex sensing that would help in identifying the pathogen. This would need the proteins to produce the surface receptors. 

WBCs are motile in nature which needs high metabolic energy which is supported by the proteins being synthesised in the nucleus. This helps the WBCs to move to various regions which are facing infection and track down pathogens. 

In addition to these, the entire process of engulfing the pathogens to eliminate from the body is highly energy intensive which is generated by the proteins being generated by the nucleus. It indulges in the signalling process along with the action of the cytoskeleton within the cell membrane.

In order to manage the intracellular signalling process, production of biochemicals are to be facilitated which would help in killing the pathogens. This process needs the active expressions of proteins which is facilitated by the nucleus present in the WBCs as the chemicals cannot be stored in the cells. Also, there are various types of antigens which require producing specific antibodies to eliminate the pathogens. 

The White Blood Cells have been identified to be engaged in higher sets of activities which involve increased metabolism rate to produce a large number of necessary ATP. WBCs also need to engage in regulating the growth, differentiation process and cell division abilities in order to produce memory cells and plasmocytes which are supported by the nucleus. 

Do white blood cells have a large nucleus?

It has been identified that few of the white blood cells have large nucleus whereas few of the white blood cells have more than one nucleus to support the functions promoted by each type of white blood cells in the body. 

Which white blood cell has a large nucleus?

Among the various types of white blood cells, the monocytes and the lymphocytes have been identified to have large nucleus. In terms of monocytes, the nucleus is relatively big and is folded in a bean-shaped manner. In terms of the lymphocytes, the nucleus has been identified to occupy most of the portion of the cell. 

Why do white blood cells have large nuclei?

In case of monocytes, the nucleus is large due to the high range of activities it engages in. Monocytes are the largest cells that are found in the blood streams and are highly motile and phagocytic in nature. These engage in engulfing large particles and infectious agents which require comparatively greater energy and secretion of large amounts of protein. 

In the case of lymphocytes, the size of the cells are small but the nucleus is large and occupies most of the cells. These are found on lymph nodes, tonsils, spleen, lymphoid nodes and thymus. The small size of the cells allow free movement through blood circulation and lymphoid tissues. 

The lymphocytes when exposed to antigens, get activated and undergo cell division through mitosis, which requires energy and proteins which is provided by the nucleus of the cells. 

Why do white blood cells have a multilobed nucleus?

Few of the white blood cells are multilobed, mostly the granulocytes, that are eosinophils, basophils and neutrophils. The eosinophils have two lobes which are non-segmented, neutrophils have two to five lobes and basophils have double-lobes. 

The nuclei that are lobed or are separated are to help the easy passage of the white blood cells through the vessels of the blood more easily and in a quicker manner. These cells need to reach the site of infection or the site of entry of pathogens to ensure their elimination which needs to be quick. 

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