Difference Between Leukopenia and Neutropenia

Main Difference – Leukopenia vs Neutropenia

Leukopenia and Neutropenia are two abnormalities in the blood. Blood is the medium of transportation and a major element of immunity in our body. It comprises of a portion of plasma and cells which include granulocytes and agranulocytes. Granulocytes (with a segmented nucleus), we find in blood are Eosinophils, Neutrophils and Basophils whereas monocytes and lymphocytes come under agranulocytes. Under the circumstances of several health conditions, this cellular component of blood may vary (increase or decrease). Leukopenia and Neutropenia are two such abnormalities in blood. Neutropenia is the reduction of neutrophils in blood and is a sub-category of leukopenia which is defined as a reduction white blood cells less than 4000/μL. This is the main difference between Leukopenia and Neutropenia.

In this article, we will be discussing,

1. What is Leukopenia?
     – Features, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Treatment

2. What is Neutropenia?
     – Features, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Treatment

3. Difference Between Leukopenia and Neutropenia

Difference Between Leukopenia and Neutropenia - Comparison Summary

What is Leukopenia

This is a situation where the number of circulating white blood cell count comes down to a level less than 4000/μL. Being generally characterised by a low number of circulating neutrophils, Leukopenia could also refer to a reduction of lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils. However, the ultimate result of all these will be a reduction of immunity in the body.

Causes of Leukopenia


This is a temporary reduction of leukocytes at the onset of an infection since most of the cells-(predominantly neutrophils) are known to be migrating towards the site of infection, which shows a low cell count in blood.

Other Causes of Leukopenia:

  • Acute viral infections
  • Radiotherapy
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Hyper-spleenism
  • Sepsis
  • Folate deficiency
  • Copper and zinc deficiency
  • Certain medications like anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, smoking addiction treatment drugs, some antibiotics (Minocycline), anti-convulsants and immunosuppressive drugs
  • Arsenic Toxicity

Signs and Symptoms and Treatment for Leukopenia

Patients with leukopenia will usually experience recurrent infections due to immune-suppression. However, it is highly important to identify a cause for the condition in order to proceed with the treatment.

The treatment plan for these patients mainly includes adequate rest and hydration, since recurrent viral infections will generally resolve if the patient rests well. Other than that, altering drugs which might be causing leukopenia, bone marrow transplantation, stem cell transplantation, etc. can be carried out based on the underlying pathology.

Key Difference -  Leukopenia vs  Neutropenia

What is Neutropenia

Neutrophils are a type of blood cells, that are produced in the bone marrow which fight particularly against bacteria. Neutropenia is a condition which is characterised by a reduction of blood neutrophil count less than 1500/μL. It may occur alone or in combination with monocytopenia and lymphocytopenia. Since this is the most abundant type of white blood cells out of the five, there will usually be a marked reduction of the overall cell count as well, resulting in Leukopenia.

Causes for Neutropenia

  • Bone marrow pathologies
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Recurrent infections
  • Congenital abnormalities in the bone marrow
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Tuberculosis
  • Dengue fever
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain medications like antibiotics, anti-epileptics, anti-psychotics

Signs and Symptoms and Treatment for Neutropenia

Most patients with Neutropenia will present with recurrent infections (ulcers, abscesses, and rashes), fever and other signs and symptoms related to the underlying pathology.

As far as the treatment for Neutropenia is concerned, most mild cases will resolve spontaneously whereas severe patients should be managed with,

  • Antibiotics (if a bacterial infection is diagnosed)
  • granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)
  • Using alternatives for drugs triggering the condition
  • Granulocyte transfusion
  • Stem cell transplantation in patients diagnosed with bone marrow pathologies.

    Difference Between Leukopenia and Neutropenia

Difference Between Leukopenia and Neutropenia


Leukopenia is defined as a reduction of white blood cells less than 4000/μL.

Neutropenia is the reduction of neutrophils in blood and is a sub-category of leukopenia.

Type of Infection

Although both these conditions can give rise to a significant immune-suppression in affected patients,

Leukopenia, in general, gives rise to recurrent viral infections whereas,

Neutropenia patients will most often experience bacterial infections.


Treatment for both Leukopenia and Neutropenia will depend on the underlying condition, yet patients with neutropenia will respond well to antibiotics whereas those with leukopenia will not.

Image Courtesy:

“Blausen 0676 Neutrophil” By BruceBlaus. Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. – Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music