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Explain the tests: Complete blood cell count (CBC) – Low white blood cell count (Part six)

Low white blood cell count is called leukopenia. Due to mast cell involvement in many bodily processes, leukopenia can occur for many reasons.

Reasons for leukopenia:

  • Bone marrow suppression
  • Disorder of white cell production or white cell precursors
  • Proliferative disease of other cell types in the bone marrow
  • Mechanical destruction of white blood cells, as in splenomegaly (swollen spleen)

Some conditions that interfere with making enough white blood cells:

  • Certain infections, such as tuberculosis, malaria, dengue fever, Lyme disease and viral infections
  • Sepsis
  • Nutritional deficiency, such as low copper or zinc
  • Nutritional toxicity of certain minerals, such as arsenic

Some proliferative diseases that interfere with making white blood cells:

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Myelofibrosis

Conditions that affect white cell precursors:

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Damage to precursors by radiation exposure or chemotherapy

Conditions that cause damage to white cells:

  • Splenomegaly, swollen spleen
  • Lupus


Medications that interfere with making enough white blood cells:

  • Immunosuppressants, like mycophenolate, cyclosporine and TNF blockers
  • Interferon preparations, like Betaseron
  • Other medications like clozapine, bupropion, minocycline, lamotrigine and valproic acid
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation