Neutropenia

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

What causes neutropenia?

Neutropenia can be present (though it is relatively uncommon) in normal healthy individuals, notably in some persons of African or Arabic descent and Yemenite Jews. Neutropenia may arise as a result of decreased production of neutrophils, destruction of neutrophils after they are produced, or pooling of neutrophils (accumulation of the neutrophils out of the circulation).

Neutropenia may arise as a result of numerous medical conditions:

  • Infections (more commonly viral infections, but also bacterial or parasitic infections). Examples include:HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, Epstein Barr virus (EBV);
  • Medications that may damage the bone marrow or neutrophils, including cancer chemotherapy;
  • Vitamin deficiencies (megaloblastic anemia due to vitamin B12 or folate deficiency);
  • Diseases of the bone marrow such as leukemias, myelodysplastic syndrome, aplastic anemia, myelofibrosis;
  • Radiation therapy;
  • Congenital (inborn) disorders of bone marrow function or of neutrophil production, for example, Kostmann syndrome;
  • Autoimmune destruction of neutrophils (either as a primary condition or associated with another disease such as Felty's syndrome) or from drugs stimulating the immune system to attack the cells
  • Hypersplenism, which refers to the increased sequestration or destruction of blood cells by the spleen
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2015
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