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Int J Epidemiol. 1997 Aug;26(4):757-64.

Black/white differences in leukocyte subpopulations in men.

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National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, USA.



Although counts of leukocytes differ substantially between blacks and whites, and are predictive of ischaemic heart disease (IHD), racial differences in counts of leukocyte subpopulations have received less attention.


We examined black/white differences in leukocyte subpopulations among 3467 white and 493 black 31-45 year-old-men who had previously served in the US Army. Laboratory determinations were performed at a central location during 1985-1986.


Black men had an 840 cell/microliter (or 15%) lower mean total leukocyte count than did white men, largely due to a 960 cell/microliter (or 25%) lower mean neutrophil count. Although black men also had a 20% lower mean monocyte count (= 70 cells/microliter) than did white men, their mean lymphocyte count was 10% higher (approximately = 200 cells/microliter). Counts of various leukocyte subpopulations were associated with cigarette smoking, haemoglobin levels, platelet counts, and several other characteristics, but black/white differences in counts of neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes and other subpopulations could not be attributed to any of the examined covariates.


Despite the relatively low counts of leukocytes and neutrophils among black men, their lymphocyte counts are generally higher than those among white men. It is possible that black/white differences in counts of various cell types may influence race-specific rates of IHD, and future studies should attempt to assess the importance of leukocyte subpopulations in the development of clinical disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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