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NLR Portents Poor Health Outcomes

As part of innate immunity, white blood cells change in response to pathogens.

In general, neutrophils respond to bacterial infection, and their levels elevate.

Lymphocytes respond to generalized infection. Severe infection (bacterial or viral) can cause lymphopenia (low blood counts) because lymphocytes move from the circulating pool into the tissues. However, sometimes lymphocytes elevate along with the neutrophils. I will explain the difference in a future blog.

The NLR value, the ratio of the absolute neutrophils to lymphocytes, provides an amplified signal for infection, particularly chronic infection.

Link to an evidence-based study of NLR and excess early mortality risk:

Video montage showing the relationship between NLR and various solid tumors, heart disease, and muscle wasting.


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