Agranulocytosis

(Granulocytopenia; Granulopenia; Neutropenia)

Definition

Agranulocytosis is a low level of white blood cells. These blood cells are part of the immune system. They help fight infections.Agranulocytosis may be:
  • Acquired—Develops after medical treatment or specific drugs. May appear suddenly or develop over time.
  • Congenital—present at birth
    • Cyclic neutropenia—cycles up and down over a 21-day period
    • Severe congenital neutropenia
White Blood Cells
White Blood Cells
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Causes

Agranulocytosis is caused by destruction of white blood cells or by the failure of bone marrow to make enough white blood cells.With congenital agranulocytosis, these problems are caused by a genetic defect.With acquired agranulocytosis, these problems may be caused by:
  • Infections by virus, bacteria, or parasite
  • Underlying inflammatory condition
  • Chemotherapy
  • Drugs—used in medical treatment or recreational use
  • Autoimmune disease—your immune systems attacks your own tissue such as white blood cells
  • Damage to bone marrow usually by chemicals, radiation, or cancers
  • Certain toxins
  • Poor nutrition—particularly low protein intake

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of developing agranulocytosis include:
  • Undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer
  • Taking certain medications, including some antithyroid medication, antidepressants, antihistamines, and anticonvulsants
  • Infection
  • Exposure to certain chemical toxins or radiation
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Enlargement of the spleen
  • Vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency
  • Leukemia or myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Aplastic anemia or other diseases of the bone marrow
  • Family history of certain genetic diseases

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