Cancer chemotherapy is probably the most common cause of neutropenia. People with chemotherapy-related neutropenia are prone to infections while they wait for their cell counts to recover.
Neutrophils are manufactured in bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside some of your larger bones. Anything that disrupts neutrophil production can result in neutropenia.
Specific causes include:
- Kostmann's syndrome — a congenital disorder involving low production of neutrophils
- Myelokathexis — a congenital disorder involving failure of neutrophils to enter the bloodstream
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Alcohol use disorder
- Chronic idiopathic neutropenia in adults
- Vitamin deficiencies
Certain infections also can result in neutropenia, including:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Lyme disease
- Salmonella infection
- Sepsis — an overwhelming bloodstream infection that uses up neutrophils faster than they can be produced
- Other viral infections that disrupt the work of bone marrow
Conditions that destroy neutrophils in the bloodstream and that can result in neutropenia include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders
- Medications, such as antibiotics
- Hypersplenism — an abnormality of the spleen causing blood cell destruction
Jan. 20, 2016
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Kumar V, et al. Diseases of white blood cells, lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus. In: Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
- Marx JA, et al., eds. Anemia, polycythemia, and white blood cells disorders. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec.7, 2015.
- AskMayoExpert. Leuokepenia (adults). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Kliegman RM, et al., eds. Leukopenia. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
- Berliner N. Approach to the adult with unexplained neutropenia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 16, 2015.
- Coates TD. Drug-induced neutropenia and agranulocytosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 7, 2016.
- Wingard JR. Prophylaxis of infection during chemotherapy-induced neutropenia in high-risk adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 7, 2016.
- Friedman ND, et al. General principles of infection control. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 7, 2016.