Lymphopenia What Is Lymphopenia?

woman wearing a mask talking to a doctor

Lymphopenia (also called lymphocytopenia) is a disorder in which your blood doesn’t have enough  white blood cells  called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes play a protective role in your immune system.

There are three types of lymphocytes. All lymphocytes help protect you from infection, but they have different functions.

  • B lymphocytes are made in the bone marrow. These cells make antibody to help you get better when you are sick (humoral immunity).They also may protect you from future illness.
  • T lymphocytes develop in the thymus gland, an organ in the chest that is part of the lymphatic system . T cells can kill viruses -infected cells or cancer cells and signal other cells to help destroy viruses (cellular immunity).T cells also help B cells form antibodies.
  • Natural killer cells, which develop in the bone marrow, thymus, and liver, are immune cells that contain enzymes to kill cancer cells or cells infected with a virus.

Infections can be life-threatening when people have no T nor B cells, as in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). In adults, about 20% to 40% of the white blood cells in your body are lymphocytes. These cells help protect your body from infection. If you have low numbers of lymphocytes (lymphopenia), you are at higher risk of infection.

The main risk factor for lymphopenia worldwide is poor nutrition. Infections, diseases, medicines, and other factors also raise your risk for lymphopenia. The most common infection that can lead to lymphopenia is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which causes AIDS. Sometimes the cause of lymphopenia is not known.,

Lymphopenia symptoms can range from mild to serious and are correlated to the severity of the lymphopenia as well as its duration. Some people have no symptoms. People who don’t have enough lymphocytes may get infections more often. Treatment for this condition depends on its cause and how serious it is. If an underlying condition is successfully treated, lymphopenia will likely improve. If lymphopenia doesn’t cause health problems, your healthcare provider may not recommend any treatment.

Last updated on