nucleated cells

March 21, 2009 at 11:48 pm

I agree with Kelly, except that the number is less than 5 per microliter not milliliter for both nucleated cells (WBC) and for RBC in the CSF.

Most of the time, the cell differential is reported as WBC instead of nucleated cells and the number of each kind is reported–for example, number of lymphocytes, number of monocytes, and number of polymorphonuclear (PMN) or poly or neutrophils (all three nicknames for the same type of cell). People worry about bacterial meningitis is the number of polys is really high. Our lab occassionally reports non-hematologic nucleated cells as well. These can be lining cells of the spinal cord, but most often are “clean up cells” after there has been irritation of the spinal lining. If this is what your nucleated cells are, the picture is one of healing–low (inflammatory) protein, clean-up cells present to get rid of older damage, and higher glucose (which can be associated with fewer cells in the spinal fluid to use up the glucose).

As Kelly and Emma point out, higher glucose has to taken in context with your serum glucose AT THAT TIME. Often the serum glucose used to compare was at hours different in time. Also, if the CSF is “delayed” in going to the lab, the glucose will be higher and the protein may be a little higher (because of breakage of the fragile cells in the spinal fluid).