Leukocytes: Functions, in Urine & in Stool

picture of Leukocytes


What are Leukocytes?

Leukocytes a body’s army of soldiers are a part of our immune system. They not only fight the germs that cause disease and infections, they strive to protect us against any foreign agent that appears to be a threat. Some produce weapons in the form of antibodies while others make direct attacks. Some kill by completely devouring certain invaders. Then there are those who notify other leukocytes that an invasion has taken place.

Leukocytes in Urine

Your urinary system is made up of the bladder, urethra, kidneys and ureters. If an analysis (urinalysis) is made and leukocytes get detected in your urine without any traces of nitrates, it could be an indication that you have a urinary system infection.

The normal leukocytes levels in your urine should be about 0-10lev/vl. Should the level go beyond 20lev/vl, you have an underlying medical problem and, therefore, you need medical attention as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Leukocytes in Urine

  • Blood in the urine
  • Shivering and fever
  • Frequent urination
  • Cloudy, foul-smelling urine
  • Painful and burning sensation when urinating
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus or bladder tumor
  • Kidney inflammation

Causes of Leukocytes in Urine

  • Bladder Infection. Also called cystitis (ureters and urinary tract inflammation) leads to presence of leukocytes in your urine.
  • Kidney Infection. Such as pyelonephritis can increase the number of leukocytes in your urine. This is an infection which occurs in your urinary tract then spreads to your kidney. However, people whose immune systems are weak are the ones at risk of having kidney infection and those who have been using urinary catheters for prolonged durations.
  • Urinary System Blockage. This may lead to hematuria which is presence of blood in your urine. Obstruction scan be caused by trauma, bladder/kidney stones, pelvis tumor, unnecessary foreign bodies or prostate hypertrophy in your urinary tract.
  • Pregnancy. If you are pregnant, finding leukocytes and protein in your urine is a normal occurrence and shouldn’t warrant worry. However, if the presence of these two substances persists and are more than a few traces in your urine, you need to consult your doctor so that they can tell whether you have a bladder infection.
  • Other Causes. During sexual intercourse, bacteria might get in the urethra hence presence of leukocytes in your urine. You can also find leukocytes in your urine when you hold the urine in for too long. The bladder is overstretched and becomes weak, making it unable to empty itself. The urine left over can cause the formation of bacteria thereby causing bladder or urinary tract infections.

Treatments for Leukocytes in Urine

Treatment for leukocytes in urine depends on the infection cause. Antibiotics clear the infection well. When you also avoid the mentioned situations, if possible, you can prevent getting urinary tract infections and the appearance if extra WBC’s in your urine to eradicate that infection.

Should the infection reach extreme levels, seek immediate medical attention to get the necessary treatment. There are some cases where hospitalization will be essential.

Functions of Leukocytes

While all white blood cells have a nucleus, they tend to be different in function and form. A white blood cell, however, can be either a lymphocyte or myeloid leukocyte. Myeloid leukocytes include basophils, eosinophils, monocytes, and neutrophils. Lymphocytes include natural killer cells, B cells, and T cells.


Basophils (basophil granulocytes) account for between 0.01 and 0.03 percent white blood cells and specialize in inflammatory reactions, particularly those due to allergies. They work to prevent blood clots and also release histamine which manages blood flow to organs and tissues.


These white blood cells neutralize parasitic infections as well as protecting the body from allergic reactions, such as hives, asthma, and hay fever. Some of the infections eosinophils defend the body from worms (river blindness, liverfluke, guinea worm, hookworm, tapeworm, and roundworm), chagas disease, sleeping sickness, malaria, giardia, and babesiosis.


This type of leukocytes replenishes components of the immune system, including macrophages (which surround then digest tissue waste and cellular debris) and dendritic cells (which supply and process antigen material for other cells in the immune system). Monocytes travel to infected sites where they separate into dendritic cells or macrophages to start the immune system defense and ingest foreign matter.


This type of leukocyte defends the body from bacterial infections. Large numbers of neutrophils will charge the bacteria causing the disease, attacking and activating the contaminant in order to neutralize infection. They protect against tetanus, typhoid fever, diphtheria, syphilis, cholera, leprosy, and tuberculosis.


A type of lymphocyte is the NK (natural killer) cell, which works to defend the body from tumors, whether they are benign, pre-malignant, or malignant. NK cells work by releasing granules that kill these cells, destroying all cells which are abnormal.

Leukocytes in a Stool

Your doctor will use your stools as an important diagnostic tool for diagnosing digestive tract disorders. Most of the time, stools should not contain blood cells of any kind. The presence of leukocytes in stool samples may indicate a problem of the gastrointestinal tract. The lab usually quantifies the number of leukocytes in stool as few, moderate, or many, with specific values varying slightly between labs.

Few Leukocytes

In most cases, a lack of leukocytes in a stool sample indicates diarrhea caused by a virus, such as the infectious Norovirus. It is also possible to see no leukocytes in cases of diarrhea and cholera from E. coli or other parasites. If there are red blood cells, but no white blood cells in the stool, then the patient may have amebiasis.

Moderate Leukocytes

Moderate numbers of white blood cells can indicate a pathogenic infection in the digestive tract. Bacillary dysentery, or shigellosis, is one common cause for leukocytes in stools or watery diarrhea and this is typically due to contamination of a feco-oral nature. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, body ache, stomach cramps, and fever.

Many Leukocytes

If there are many leukocytes, this typically indicates a severe infection of the intestinal tract, such as typhoid. In the case of typhoid fever, you will mostly find monocytes in the stool and experience fever as well as abdominal pain. Untreated shigellosis and invasive E. coli infections may also lead to high leukocyte levels. Frequently, a count between moderate and many will lead to a temporary diagnosis of salmonellosis or shigellosis. Gastroenteritis may also be a cause.