Basophils In Microscopy – What Does It Look Like Under The Microscope?

Have you found yourself wondering what basophils look like under a microscope? Maybe you want to know more about the procedure of putting them under a microscope?

Basophils In Microscopy - What Does It Look Like Under The Microscope?

Or are you curious to learn more about basophils in general? Whatever your question might be that brought you here today, we have the answer for you! 

We know how confusing the world of basophils can be, especially if this is the first time you are learning about them!

Making up just 0.5% of the total leukocytes in circulation, they are the smallest part of white blood cells, so it’s no wonder few people know about them, let alone put them under a microscope! 

The lack of information about basophils leaves many people feeling confused, stressed, and unsure where to go to learn more about them.

After all, how are you supposed to know who to trust online?

Well, you can trust us! Today, we are here with the answers that you need.

Just keep reading to find out what basophils look like under a microscope and everything else you need to know about them! 

Observations, Procedure, And Staining Of Basophils 

Let’s get straight into today’s article and get you the answers you need! As we said earlier, basophils make up the smallest percentage of white blood cells compared to others.

Like mast cells, they are derived from CD34+ found in bone marrow and are made up of granules that contain histamine. 

When basophils are fully developed and have matured in the marrow, they enter your blood circulation, moving around your body.

Despite being the smallest percentage of leukocytes, basophils have the highest amount of histamine, which plays a vital role when your body is infected by foreign particles (like an infection). 

Basophils also feature heparin, an essential anticoagulant that works to stop your blood from clotting too quickly. 

Basophils In Microscopy 

Basophils aren’t detected well by the naked eye, but you can view them under a microscope with ease! They need to be [laced on a thin film and viewed under a phase-contrast microscope.

You can also put basophils on a thick film slide to offer a comparison between the two. This is commonly done with students to allow them to see the difference between both slides.

Today we will walk you through the process to do this! 

Putting Basophils On A Thin Film 

To view your basophils on a thin film under a microscope, you will first need to gather the following: 

  • Alcohol 
  • A cotton swab
  • A clean glass slide (ideally 2 or 3) 
  • A prick needle 
  • Stain (methylene blue, methyl violet, or toluidine blue are good options here) 

How To Put Basophils On A Thin Film 

Once you have gathered the items in the list above, it is time to get to work putting your basophils on a thin film. You can follow our steps below to do this. 

  1. To start, take a cotton swab and some alcohol to clean the tip of a middle or ring finger. Use a pricking needle to prick the finger. 
  2. Press the fingertip, wiping off the first drop of blood. 
  3. Next, press the fingertip to place one or two drops of blood onto a microscopic glass slide. 
  4. Take another glass slide to cover the slip at an angle. You will want to spread the blood drop on the glass slide, creating a thin film of blood. 
  5. Leave the slide to dry and fix it with methanol before you stain it. 
  6. Leave the slide to dry completely.  

If you are using your finger to get blood for the slide, make sure that the bleeding has stopped before you continue.

You might want to apply pressure with a cotton swab or ball to stop the bleeding or put a little plaster over the top.

If you are using someone else’s finger, be sure that they have a cotton ball or a plaster to cover and stop the bleeding. 

Now that you have done this, you will want to stain the slide. We’ve got you covered, with the steps below, so read on to find out how to do this. 

Basophils In Microscopy - What Does It Look Like Under The Microscope?
  1. When the slide is dry, immerse it in a jar of one of the stains we suggested earlier. 
  2. Leave the slide immersed in the jar for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  3. Remove the stained slide and place it under your microscope. 
  4. Start with low power on your microscope to view the basophils. 
  5. Turn the microscope up to 100x magnification and add oil immersion to view the basophils. 

And that’s all you need to do! It’s not as challenging as you first thought, is it? But what can you expect to see?

Check out our observation section below to see what basophils will look like under the microscope! 

Observing Basophils Under A Microscope 

When you look at basophils under a microscope, they should look spherical. But with any of the stains we mentioned, you should see brick red granules.

These granules are quite refractive when viewed under the microscope and might look like vacuoles.

This is because of the inverted phase contact and because they are ringed by a dark border. 

By using the stains that we mentioned earlier, you can see the granules more clearly, making it easier for you to see the basophils and learn more about what makes up a basophil!

You can repeat the steps above with a thicker glass slide too and note the differences between the basophils. 

Basophils – A Discussion 

When we put basophils under a phase-contrast and electron microscope, we can see granules of about 0.2 um in diameter.

The size of these granules makes them granulocytes and in the same category as eosinophils and neutrophils.

We have also seen granules with a diameter of 10 um to 14 um! This makes them the smallest granulocytes in their category!

But unlike eosinophils and neutrophils, basophils are not phagocytes. Due to their numerous and opaque granules, it is difficult to get a clear view of the nucleus.

If you have an unstained one, then you’ve got a better chance of seeing the nucleus and its two lobes. 

Some of the granules in basophils have a secretory nature, while others will store heparin, histamine, and other chemicals.

During an allergic reaction or inflammation, histamine is then released from the granules, causing increased permeability of the capillaries. 

Let’s touch briefly on histamine. It contributes to the inflammatory response by causing edema or swelling.

Any inflammation also causes heparin to release. Heparin, as we know, not only prevents blood from clotting but also activates the lipoprotein lipase enzyme, which helps to degrade triglycerides in the blood. 

Histamine is also an important vasodilator, allowing an increased blood flow to tissues.

This is essential during infections, as it allows the blood and leukocytes to reach the affected tissue and start to attack the infection. 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it! Basophils are interesting to look at under the microscope, with granules that should appear brick red depending on the stain that you use!

Be sure to take care when pricking the finger to get blood for your slide and to use clean needles and slides to keep everyone safe and have a clear view of the basophils!  

Jennifer Dawkins

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