Leucopenia – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

Last Updated on December 16, 2022 by Dr. Saqib Mueed

What is Leucopenia?

The term leukopenia is derived from two ‘French words leuko’means, ‘white’ and ‘Penia’ means’ deficiency’. (Means deficiency of WBCs).                                                                             

The abnormal action of the granulocytes, which arises from reduced formation of white blood cells or increased utilization and destruction or both of them leads to leucopenia or leukopenia is absolute loss of leukocytes as below 4000 per micro letter.

Leukocytes play an important role in immune system, but loss of leukocytes (as decrease in number) will disturb the functioning of immune systems or increases the chances of infections. Leucopenia may or may not be lethal depending upon the type of leukopenia and neutropenia, eosinopenia.

How Changes in WBCs (Leukocytes) occurred

There are many conditions that alter the Chemistry of Leukocytes (as numbers); lupus, drug toxicity, malignancies, bone marrow depression.


About half of all the neutropenia as severe congenital neutropenia resulted from the mutation in the ELANE gene.

Only 10% arise by mutation in the HAX1 gene.

Other gene mutations cause only a small percentage of neutropenia.


The decrease in neutrophils due to various causes will lead to neutropenia. Neutropenia may or may not be severe. Neutropenia can be classified into different types on the basis of various intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Intrinsic Neutropenia

There are following types of neutropenia on the basis of intrinsic factors:

  • Congenital and acquired (Bone marrow failure syndromes)
  • Familial benign neutropenia
  • Cyclic neutropenia
  • Severe congenital neutropenia (including Kostmann’s syndrome)
  • Diamond syndrome

Extrinsic neutropenia

Following are the major types of neutropenia on the basis of extrinsic factors.

  • Chronic idiopathic neutropenia
  • Autoimmune neutropenia
  • Neutropenia assembled with metabolic diseases
  • Neonatal immune neutropenia
  • Neutropenia associated with immune dysfunction
  • Infection related Neutropenia

Neonatal alloimmune Neutropenia

This type of neutropenia arises due to different Rh antibodies that differ from the mother’s, which will result in immunologic disorder.

When maternal antibodies cross the placenta and causes immune mediated neutropenia which can be lethal and last from several weeks to as long as six months.

Treatment with G-CSF, starting five to ten microgram per kilogram per day.This type of treatment is applied when serious infections develop.

What are causes of Leucopenia 

There are many diseases and conditions can cause leukopenia such as, Bone marrow or Blood cells condition (as myelodys plastic syndromes, aplastic anemia and myelofibrosis etc.)

Cancer and its treatment also result in leukopenia (as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and bone marrow transplant etc.)

Congenital disorder also responsible for leukopenia: (as kostmann syndrome or severe congenital neutropenia, myelokathexis etc.)

Symptoms of Leucopenia 

A symptom of leukopenia varies with respect to location where it occurs and type of cell. But, some main symptoms are; more chance of infection, fever, sweating and chills, tiredness, weakness and shortness of breath types.

Leucopenia is also used interchangeably as neutropenia (deficiency of neutrophils a granulocyte). There are various types of leukopenia depending upon which type of blood cell is in low quantity.

  • Monocytopenia
  • Basopenia
  • lymphopenia

Interchangeably the term neutropenia’ is the deficiency of neutrophils in a granulocyte.

As the main function of white blood cells in the immune system for defending purposes, (so, neutro piles protect from infection as bacterial and fungal).

Treatment of Leucopenia 

Caution: All types of treatments should be after consultation of your health care or your doctor

Leucopenia can be treated by following way


Can be used to stimulate the body to make more blood cells.

Medications which are used for the treatment of various infectious diseases take in low quantity

Growth factors

Various types of essential vitamins’, minerals and other important nutrients should give to patient for the proper and fast growth of WBCs

 Treatment stopping

By stooping treatment as chemotherapy’ to give more time to body to make white blood cells.[1]Leukopenia – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics[2]Leucopenia Factors Before and After Initiation of ART | JBM (dovepress.com)[3]Overview of Leukopenias – Hematology and Oncology – MSD Manual Professional Edition (msdmanuals.com)[4]LEUCOPENIA AS A MANIFESTATION OF FOLIC ACID DEFICIENCY IN PREGNANCY – Kohler – 1963 – BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology – Wiley Online Library

Reviewed by:

Dr. Shahid Bukhari

MBBS, FCPS (Medicine)

Ex. Registrar DOW Medical College Karachi

Medical Officer Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi

Our reviewers’ details, Click Here

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