What causes low lymphocytes in the blood?

January 14, 2010

The condition that you are possibly faced with is an infection and is called lymphocytopenia. This simply means that you have a low level of immune system lymphocytes in your blood. This can sometimes occur after a huge infection in which the lymphocytes were used up to destroy the invading pathogens, a result of corticosteroid use, cancer treatments, and, worst of all, HIV infection. It would make sense for you to get another blood test like the ELISA test for AIDS done immediately.

AIDS causes lymphocytopenia because the HIV virus specifically targets the lymphocytes. This renders the body unable to rely on its immune system to fight infections and eventually the repeated infections will kill if full-blown AIDS develops. This is at an extreme end of the spectrum. If you test negative for HIV infection, your condition would indicate that you had a recent infection as small as the common cold.

Lymphocytes are categorized as part of the white blood cells but they are actually part of the lymphatic system. Leukocytes are those white blood cells that are created in the bone marrow and mature there before being released into the blood. These cells are usually the first to the site of an infection. Other white blood cells like lymphocytes are created in the bone marrow but have to travel to other parts of the body for maturation and differentiation. T-cells will go to the thymus and then to lymph nodes, B-cells will mature in the bone marrow itself, and memory cells and helper T-cells will migrate to the spleen. Natural Killer cells are the other type of lymphocytes that are the most potent killers of pathogens and tumor infected cells in the body. After maturation, these cells usually lie in wait in organs like the spleen and the lymph nodes waiting for a signal to attack. This signal can come in the form of a previously identified antigen or a cytokine release from a pathogenically damaged cell of the human body.

Submitted by N on January 14, 2010 at 08:23

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