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A low white blood cell count usually is caused by: Viral infections that temporarily disrupt the work of bone marrow. Certain disorders present at birth (congenital) that involve diminished bone marrow function. Cancer or other diseases that damage bone marrow. Autoimmune disorders that destroy white blood cells or bone marrow cells.
How many white blood cells (WBCs) someone has varies, but the normal range is usually between 4,000 and 11,000 per microliter of blood. A blood test that shows a WBC count of less than 4,000 per microliter (some labs say less than 4,500) could mean your body may not be able to fight infection the way it should.
A low white blood cell count (leukopenia) is a decrease in disease-fighting cells (leukocytes) in your blood. Leukopenia is almost always related to a decrease in a certain type of white blood cell (neutrophil). The definition of low white blood cell count varies from one medical practice to another.
Low white blood cell count and cancer. If the neutrophil count is very low, fewer than 500 neutrophils in a microliter of blood, it is called severe neutropenia. When the neutrophil count gets this low, even the bacteria normally living in a person's mouth, skin, and gut can cause serious infections.
The normal white blood cell count in one liter of human blood ranges between 4 to 11 million. A substantial increase or decrease in this number could be an indication of some underlying medical condition. Low White Blood Cell Count. This condition denotes a decrease in the number of white blood cells in the blood.
An unusually high white blood cell count can indicate an infection, hypersplenism, bone marrow depression (drugs, radiation or heavy metal poisoning) or primary bone marrow disorders such as leukemia. A low white blood cell count can be the result of infection, make an individual more susceptible to outside infections or allow multiplication of organisms within the body which would normally kept in check by a healthy immune system.
Leukopenia () is a decrease in the number of white blood cells (leukocytes) found in the blood, which places individuals at increased risk of infection. Neutropenia, a subtype of leukopenia, refers to a decrease in the number of circulating neutrophil granulocytes, the most abundant white blood cells. The terms leukopenia and neutropenia may occasionally be used interchangeably, as the neutrophil count is the most important indicator of infection risk. This should not be confused with agranulocytosis.
White blood cells (also called leukocytes or leucocytes and abbreviated as WBCs) are the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders. All white blood cells are produced and derived from multipotent cells in the bone marrow known as hematopoietic stem cells. Leukocytes are found throughout the body, including the blood and lymphatic system. All white blood cells have nuclei, which distinguishes them from the other blood cells, the anucleated red blood cells (RBCs) and platelets. Types of white blood cells can be classified in standard ways. Two pairs of broadest categories classify them either by structure (granulocytes or agranulocytes) or by cell lineage (myeloid cells or lymphoid cells). These broadest categories can be further divided into the five main types: neutrophils, eosinophils (acidophiles), basophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes. These types are distinguished by their physical and functional characteristics. Monocytes and neutrophils are phagocytic. Further subtypes can be classified; for example, among lymphocytes, there are B cells, T cells, and NK cells. The number of leukocytes in the blood is often an indicator of disease, and thus the white blood cell count is an important subset of the complete blood count. The normal white cell count is usually between 4 × 109/L and 1.1 × 1010/L. In the US, this is usually expressed as 4,000 to 11,000 white blood cells per microliter of blood. White blood cells make up approximately 1% of the total blood volume in a healthy adult, making them substantially less numerous than the red blood cells at 40% to 45%. However, this 1% of the blood makes a large difference to health, because immunity depends on it. An increase in the number of leukocytes over the upper limits is called leukocytosis. It is normal when it is part of healthy immune responses, which happen frequently. It is occasionally abnormal, when it is neoplastic or autoimmune in origin. A decrease below the lower limit is called leukopenia. This indicates a weakened immune system.
Neutropenia or neutropaenia is an abnormally low concentration of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) in the blood. Neutrophils make up the majority of circulating white blood cells and serve as the primary defense against infections by destroying bacteria, bacterial fragments and immunoglobulin-bound viruses in the blood. People with neutropenia are more susceptible to bacterial infections and, without prompt medical attention, the condition may become life-threatening (neutropenic sepsis). Neutropenia can be divided into congenital and acquired, with severe congenital neutropenia (SCN) and cyclic neutropenia being autosomal dominant and mostly caused by heterzygous mutations in the ELANE gene (neutrophil elastase). Neutropenia can be acute (temporary) or chronic (long lasting). The term is sometimes used interchangeably with "leukopenia" ("deficit in the number of white blood cells").