Low Monocytes

Monocytes are a form of white blood cells that help fight infections in the body and assist other white blood cells eliminate dead or damaged tissues, demolish malignant cells and control immunity against strange materials in the body. These are manufactured in the bone marrow and represent about 10% circulating white blood cells. Monocytes spend few hours in the bloodstream and enter the liver, spleen, lungs and bone marrow tissues where they develop into macrophages.

Monocytes count in the blood can be high or low. An increase in the count of monocytes in your blood may be as a result of a response to blood disorders, chronic infection and some forms of cancer.

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A low monocytes count is also known as monocytopenia which occurs as a result of anything that decreases your white blood cells count in the blood. Low count of monocytes in the blood is threatening since it elevates your risk of infections. This risk depends on the underlying cause and the severity of monocytopenia.


Causes of Low Monocytes

Low monocytes can result from numerous causes such as:

Aplastic anemia: This is a blood disorder where the bone marrow is unable to manufacture adequate amounts of all forms of blood cells such as white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Bone marrow is involved in creating stem cells which produce different forms of blood cells. People with aplastic anemia have stem cells which develop into immature and unhealthy cells hence causing low monocytes.

HIV/AIDs: People suffering from HIV/AIDS have a weak immune system and are also affected by bone marrow disorders. This lowers the monocytes count in the blood of these patients.

Hairy cell leukemia: This is a form of blood cancer that is marked by an increase in white blood cells type B cells produced by the bone marrow. These cells appear as hairy when observed under a microscope. Too much type cells can elevate your risk of a reduction in monocytes count.

Tuberculosis: This disease is a bacterial infection and very severe. It affects your lungs and can spread and affect other parts of your body. When bacteria reach the bone marrow, they attack it and cause an infection. The infected bone marrow cannot perform effectively and as a result leads to a drop in production of monocytes.

Lupus: This is an auto-immune and inflammatory condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks organs and tissues of the body such as bone marrow. This causes abnormal issues in the bone marrow which leads to a drop in the count of monocytes produced. Patients with lupus suffer from bone marrow disorders which affect its function

Rheumatoid arthritis: This is a type of auto-immune condition that causes inflammation in your joints. It also affects the bone marrow from functioning properly which causes low monocytes.

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Medications: There are certain medications that can cause a drop in the count of monocytes in your blood. These drugs and therapies include:

  • Radiation therapy and chemotherapy– These therapies are used in treating cancer. They demolish malignant cells in different ways. Radiotherapy uses a form of radiation while chemotherapy uses certain drugs to eliminate cancerous cells. These methods cannot differentiate malignant and health cells and as a result can destroy healthy blood cells. They also weaken your bone marrow function thus lowering its capacity to manufacture monocytes. This leads to a drop in the count of monocytes produced in the blood.
  • Corticosteroids: These are anti-inflammatory drugs that suppress your body defense mechanism. Inhibition affects the function of monocytes and reduces its count in the blood. It also weakens your immune system making it more prone to infections.
  • Interferon: Health professionals can recommend oral interferon to cure viral hepatitis. However, interferon can seriously affect the function of your bone marrow and prevent manufacture of monocytes and white blood cells. Patients taking interferon will show a drop in monocytes count.



Low monocytes do not cause any symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms depend on the underlying cause of low monocytes. For instance, infection can cause high body temperature (fever), sore throat, flu, frequent urinating and coughing.

The common low monocytes symptoms include:

  • Low count of monocytes causes weakness since your immune system is overwhelmed in fighting against infections. People with low monocyte count are prone to fatigue and tiredness. They are more likely to be tired throughout the day and this affects their daily duties.
  • Low monocyte is accompanied with reduced count of red blood cells which are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Low numbers of red blood cells reduce the quantity of oxygen in the blood which causes breathing problems in some people. People with low count of monocytes are vulnerable to infections and they take longer to heal.


Treatment of Low Monocytes

Successful treatment of low monocytes depends on its cause, secondary infections, severity of monocytes and symptoms. The following treatment options can be used:

  • White blood cells growth factors are given to patients to increase white blood cells count.
  • Use antibiotics to treat bacterial infection.

Eat a healthy and balanced diet to prevent infections from spreading

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