Neutropenia

(Granulocytopenia; Granulopenia)

Definition

Neutropenia is the bone marrow’s inability to produce enough neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps to fight infections. Neutropenia may be:
  • Acquired—Develops after medical treatment or specific drugs; may appear suddenly or develop over time
  • Congenital—Present at birth
White Blood Cells
White Blood Cells
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Causes

Neutropenia can be caused by destruction or using up white blood cells and/or by the failure of bone marrow to make enough white blood cells.With congenital neutropenia, these problems are caused by a genetic defect.With acquired neutropenia, 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 neutropenia include:
  • Undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer
  • Taking certain medications, including some antithyroid medication, antidepressants, antihistamines, and anticonvulsants
  • Infection, especially viruses
  • 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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