Leukopenia Causes

Leukopenia is a condition that refers to decrease in white blood cells (WBC) number in blood. It can be caused due to chemotherapy, certain medications, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant, stem cell transplants, cancer itself, steroids, a number of genetic conditions and autoimmune diseases. The normal WBC counts for normal adults normally range from 4,500 and 11,000/cubic millimeter of blood, though it's higher slightly in children.


There are a number of drugs and diseases that may lead to leukopenia and some of these are outlined here:

Bone marrow suppression or damage

This comes due to exposure to some toxins or chemicals, radiation therapy, cancer chemotherapy and some drugs. The agents cause decrease in production of all cells of the bone marrow and this leads to leukopenia and anemia.

Bone marrow diseases

The bone marrow doesn't produce enough WBC or produces selectively more of one kind of WBCs in these conditions, leading to lack of other types. Causes include leukemia, myledodysplatic syndrome, myelofibrosis, myeloproliferative syndrome, foliate or vitamin B12 deficiency among others.

Cancers spreading to bone marrow

Another of the leukopenia causes is the cancers when they have spread to bone marrow as seen is lymphomas among other cancers.

Autoimmune disorders

This normally occurs when the body doesn't recognize its own cells, and starts attacking them. In leukopenia cases, the body's WBC's are seen as foreign and attacked. This condition is referred to as Sytematic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or simply as lupus.

Severe infections

There are severe infections which deplete the body of WBCs and this can also lead to leukopenia. It's referred to as sepsis.

Immune system diseases

Other leukopenia causes include immune system diseases like HIV that destroy T lymphocytes.


This condition is caused by enlargement of spleen which destroys blood cells, leading to leukopenia and anemia.

Other conditions

There are other conditions such as thyroid disorders, aplastic anemia, parasitic infections, rheumatoid arthritis, mineral deficiencies of zinc and copper, vitamin deficiencies, malaria, typhoid, dengue, influenza, tuberculosis and Rickettsial among others.


This happens at the early phases of infection. The leukocytes, predominantly neutrophils, are responsible for the early reaction to an infection. The cells collect around margins of blood vessels (marginalized) after an infection so that they may scan for the infection site. Therefore, there's going to be increased WBC production though it seems low from blood sample since the blood sample is the blood's core and doesn't include the WBCs collected to reach the infection site.

Drugs causing leukopenia

There are also a number of drugs responsible for leukopenia causes. These medications may include:

The mechanism of the condition caused my drugs is chiefly mediated by immune system itself. A number of agents such as cancer chemotherapy drugs nevertheless cause leukopenia through bone marrow suppression.