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.

  1. Leukemia
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. Radiation therapy


  1. Medications used to treat overactive thyroid, such as methimazole (Tapazole) and propylthiouracil
  2. Certain antibiotics, including vancomycin (Vancocin), penicillin G and oxacillin
  3. Antiviral drugs, such as ganciclovir (Cytovene) and valganciclovir (Valcyte)
  4. Anti-inflammatory medication for conditions such as ulcerative colitis or rheumatoid arthritis, including sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
  5. Some antipsychotic medications, such as clozapine (Clozaril, Fazaclo, others) and chlorpromazine
  6. Drugs used to treat irregular heart rhythms, including quinidine and procainamide
  7. Levamisole — a veterinary drug that's not approved for human use in the United States, but may be mixed in with cocaine


  1. Chickenpox
  2. Epstein-Barr
  3. Hepatitis A
  4. Hepatitis B
  5. Hepatitis C
  7. Measles
  8. Salmonella infection
  9. Sepsis (an overwhelming bloodstream infection)

Autoimmune diseases

  1. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly called Wegener's granulomatosis)
  2. Lupus
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis

Bone marrow disorders

  1. Aplastic anemia
  2. Myelodysplastic syndromes
  3. Myelofibrosis

Additional causes

  1. Conditions present at birth, such as Kostmann's syndrome (a disorder involving low production of neutrophils)
  2. Unknown reasons, called chronic idiopathic neutropenia
  3. Vitamin deficiencies
  4. 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