Definition of Lymphocytopenia

lymphocytopeniaLymphocytopenia – a decline in the number of lymphocytes in the blood to fewer than 1,000 lymphocytes per microliter of whole blood.

Lymphocytes circulate in the blood and the lymph, their primary role being to identify and attack invading pathogens to prevent and fight infection.

Lymphocytopenia often accompanies immunodeficiency disorders, notably HIV/AIDS (in which it may be one of the earliest indications of infection), infections such as tuberculosis and hepatis, and autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and myasthenia gravis.

Other causes include radiation therapy as cancer treatment, long-term PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet light of A wavelength) phototherapy for treatment of psoriasis, severe stress, and medications such as corticosteroid medications.

Lymphocytopenia may be transitory, with the lymphocyte level returning to normal when the underlying cause improves. Depending on the cause, people who have lymphocytopenia may show few symptoms.

Treatment targets the underlying condition. The health consequences vary with the overall status of the immune system.


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