Numerous factors may cause neutropenia through destruction, decreased production or abnormal storage of neutrophils.
Cancer and cancer treatments
Cancer chemotherapy is a common cause of neutropenia. In addition to killing cancer cells, chemotherapy can also destroy neutrophils and other healthy cells.
- Radiation therapy
- Medications used to treat overactive thyroid, such as methimazole (Tapazole) and propylthiouracil
- Certain antibiotics, including vancomycin (Vancocin), penicillin G and oxacillin
- Antiviral drugs, such as ganciclovir (Cytovene) and valganciclovir (Valcyte)
- Anti-inflammatory medication for conditions such as ulcerative colitis or rheumatoid arthritis, including sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
- Some antipsychotic medications, such as clozapine (Clozaril, Fazaclo, others) and chlorpromazine
- Drugs used to treat irregular heart rhythms, including quinidine and procainamide
- Levamisole — a veterinary drug that's not approved for human use in the United States, but may be mixed in with cocaine
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Salmonella infection
- Sepsis (an overwhelming bloodstream infection)
- Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly called Wegener's granulomatosis)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Bone marrow disorders
- Aplastic anemia
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Conditions present at birth, such as Kostmann's syndrome (a disorder involving low production of neutrophils)
- Unknown reasons, called chronic idiopathic neutropenia
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Abnormalities of the spleen
People can have neutropenia without an increased risk of infection. This is known as benign neutropenia.
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Nov. 26, 2020
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- AskMayoExpert. Neutropenia. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
- Neutropenia and risk for infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/preventinfections/neutropenia.htm. Accessed Dec. 4, 2018.
- Berliner N. Approach to the adult with unexplained neutropenia. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 8, 2018.
- Goldman L, et al., eds. Leukocytosis and leukopenia. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 8, 2018.
- Bope ET, et al. Neutropenia. In: Conn's Current Therapy 2018. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 8, 2018.
- McPherson RA, et al., eds. Leukocytic disorders. In: Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 8, 2018.