How dangerous are low lymphocytes in the human body?

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For a doctor, this is always a sign of anxiety, if a patient's blood test reveals a decrease in lymphocytes. This condition is considered more dangerous to health than an elevated level of these cells. To understand what doctors are told about the reduced level of lymphocytes, it is worth to find out what kind of cells they are, and what their role in the body is.

The human immune system


  • Types of lymphocytes and their functions
  • Absolute and relative rates of normal in children and adults
  • Forms and causes of lymphopenia
    • Congenital form of lymphopenia
    • Treatment of congenital lymphopenia
    • Acquired form of lymphopenia
      • The first group (infectious diseases)
      • The second group (systemic diseases, often of an autoimmune nature)
      • The third group (iatrogenic lymphopenia)
      • The fourth group (abnormal lifestyle and malnutrition)
    • Treatment of acquired lymphopenia
    • Increase in lymphocytes folk remedies
    • How to increase lymphocytes due to proper nutrition
    • Lifestyle with lymphopenia

Types of lymphocytes and their functions

Lymphocytes belong to white blood cells (leukocytes). They have a nucleus, but do not contain granules in the cytoplasm of the cell. Generated by thymus gland (thymus) and lymphoid tissue.

There are three groups of cells.

T-lymphocyte under the microscope
  1. The highest content of T-lymphocytes in the blood. In turn, they are divided into three types.

T-helpers strengthen the acquired immunity, activate other leukocytes, transferring to them fragments of a foreign antigen with direct contact and isolating information molecules (cytokines).

T-killers eliminate the cells of the body and tumor cells damaged by viruses and bacteria.

T-suppressors regulate the strength and duration of an immune response to an alien invasion.

  1. The second largest group is B-lymphocytes. Their main function is the formation of antibodies - specific proteins, which detect pathogenic microorganisms and malignant cells and eliminate them.
  2. The least of all in the body of NK killers or natural killers. They are an important part of innate immunity. Destroy the tumor cells and affected by viruses.
Activated B-lymphocyte

Absolute and relative rates of normal in children and adults

The number of lymphocytes is determined by a general blood test. Preparation for blood donation for analysis is simple. The biomaterial is taken for analysis in the morning on an empty stomach. If any medications are taken, this should be reported to the attending physician. Drug use can distort the results of a general blood test - the content of some cells will be lower, other indicators on the contrary will be increased.

It is recommended to refrain from increased physical exertion and alcohol consumption on the eve of donating blood.


A general blood test allows you to calculate the relative (in percent, OC) and absolute content of lymphocytes (AS). In the first variant, the percentage of these cells in the total number of leukocytes is determined. Absolute index is the number of cells in one liter of blood.

Both indicators vary depending on the age of the person being examined.


With increasing age there is a tendency: from an increased value of the norm to a lower one.

  • In comparison with other age categories, lymphocytes are increased in norm in infants up to a year. Absolute content in the norm of them is from 2 to 11 units, multiplied by 10 to 9 degrees, per liter of blood. Relative content is 45-70 percent.
  • If the child is from one year to two, AC 3 is considered normal, by 10⁹, the percentage of these cells in the total number of leukocytes is 37-60.
  • At the age of 2 to 4 years, the normal AS is in the range of 2-8 per 10⁹, OS - 33-50%.
  • At the age of 5-10 years, the AU normally ranged in the range, by 10⁹, OS - 30-50%.
  • In the age group of 10-16 years there is a further decrease in normal indicators. The absolute indicator of the norm is lowered to the limits, by 10⁹, relative - 30-45%.
  • In adults, the norm of AC is in the range 1 by 10⁹, the percentage of lymphocytes in the total number of leukocytes is 19-37.
NK-killer under the microscope

Forms and causes of lymphopenia

If the lymphocytes in the blood test are lower than normal, they talk about lymphopenia. There are two forms of lymphopenia:

  • congenital;
  • acquired.

In children, there is lymphopenia of both forms, but if the lymphocytes are lowered in an adult, then it is an acquired form.

Congenital form of lymphopenia

In this case, the level of lymphocytes is lower than normal due to diseases transmitted by inheritance.

  1. One of them is Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. Patients suffer from skin eczema, a low number of platelets in the blood and immunodeficiency. Only boys are ill.

Immunodeficiency manifests itself in an insufficient number of T-lymphocytes and violations of B-lymphocyte functions. The consequence of immunodeficiency are severe, recurrent viral, fungal and bacterial infections. Often oncological pathologies develop - lymphomas and leukemias.

  1. Reduced lymphocytes in the blood are fixed during aplasia (malformation) of lymphopoietic stem cells. This disease is accompanied by anemia, insufficient blood in the blood of platelets and leukocytes.
  2. The primary immunodeficiency syndrome is Di Georgi. With this congenital disease, the thymus gland is absent, or its dimensions are pathologically small. As a result, T-lymphocytes do not develop properly and are unable to perform their functions.
  3. In the underdevelopment of the thymus gland (Nezelofa's syndrome), the differentiation of T lymphocytes is impaired. Weak immunity does not allow the body to resist bacterial and fungal pathogens. Most often affects the digestive system.
  4. The acute shortage of T-lymphocytes is fixed in the Louis Bar syndrome. This inherited disease makes a person vulnerable to infection. Because of the low number of immune cells, acute respiratory viral diseases and pneumonia often occur. In addition to immunodeficiency, it is characterized by pathologies of the cerebellum and skin.

Treatment of congenital lymphopenia

Methods of treatment depend on the cause that caused this condition, that is, from a specific genetic disease.

  1. In Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and aplasia of lymphopoietic stem cells transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells is most often used.
  2. If low lymphocytes are caused by Nezelofa syndrome, they resort to a thymus gland and bone marrow transplant. Increased doses of immunoglobulins, thymus preparations are introduced into the body.
  3. The same methods of treatment (increased doses of immunoglobulins, thymus transplantation) are used in the syndrome of Di Georgi.
  4. Preparations of the thymus gland, immunoglobulin, increased intake of antibiotics are used in the syndrome of Louis Bar.

With low lymphocytes, when this condition is due to hereditary diseases, it is not so much about the treatment that implies recovery, how much about maintaining immunity and prolonging life patient.


For example, patients with Louis Brough syndrome live less than 20 years, because they die from malignant tumors and complications after infectious diseases.

The scheme of action of the acquired immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Acquired form of lymphopenia

Adult people can acquire it at any age, but most often the acquired form of lymphopenia develops during puberty or puberty. In boys, it starts on average between the ages of 13 and 14, for girls a year or two earlier. Ends with girls in 15-17 years, boys in 17-18 years.

There are four groups of diseases that cause a decrease in lymphopenia.

The first group (infectious diseases)

The range of these diseases is quite wide. Most often, a low lymphocyte content is the result of influenza because of its widespread prevalence. These cells in the blood are lowered and with the following infectious diseases:

  • hepatitis;
  • tuberculosis;
  • measles;
  • typhoid fever,
  • acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS),
  • sepsis.

The second group (systemic diseases, often of an autoimmune nature)

The level of lymphocyte cells in autoimmune disorders is reduced, when the immune system perceives healthy cells of the body as strangers and destroys.

  1. A typical disease of this type is rheumatoid arthritis, affecting connective tissues. It is accompanied by inflammation and pain in the joints, a reduced number of lymphocytes.
  2. A significant decrease in these cells is characterized by systemic lupus erythematosus, which damages many organs and tissues. Every nine people out of ten patients with systemic lupus erythematosus are women.
  3. Low level of lymphocytes is noted with Hodgkin's lymphoma (lymphoid tissue cancer), also known as lymphogranulomatosis, Hodgkin's disease, malignant granuloma. With Hodgkin's lymphoma, malignant degeneration of B-lymphocytes occurs.
  4. Another reason for the decline is aplastic anemia, in which the growth and maturation of blood cells is strongly inhibited or completely stopped.

The third group (iatrogenic lymphopenia)

The word "iatrogenic" literally means "made by a doctor". Speech in this case is about lowering the lymphocyte counts as a result of the therapy. What kind of treatment can we talk about as reasons for the decline?

  1. At a low level, lymphocytes are found after the cytotoxic chemotherapy used for cancer. All antitumor drugs are poisons that actively affect cancer cells and less damage to healthy ones.
  2. It is worth waiting for the reduction of these cells, as well as the total number of formed elements of the blood after radiation therapy, which is used to treat cancer.
  3. Antilymphocyte serum, which is administered to a patient after organ transplantation to suppress the immune response, can dramatically decrease the number of lymphocytes in the blood.
  4. Destroys T-lymphocytes with increased rate of psoriasis therapy with psoralen.
  5. May cause the death of lymphocytes glucocorticoids, used in the treatment of a wide range of diseases.

The fourth group (abnormal lifestyle and malnutrition)

Often the cause of low lymphocyte counts is an improper lifestyle and poor diet.

  1. In particular, the cause of a reduced level of these cells is chronic alcoholism. Long-term use of alcohol depresses the functions of the bone marrow and other organs for the reproduction of blood cells.
  2. The lack of protein in the diet and increased consumption of fats can also trigger a lowered level of lymphocytes in the blood.
  3. The content of lymphocytes in the blood can decrease if there is little iron, zinc and some other microelements in the body. When iron deficiency decreases T-lymphocyte activity, the zinc deficiency leads to atrophy of lymphoid tissues and a decrease in the release of these white cells.

Treatment of acquired lymphopenia

There is no general scheme of therapy. First tests are taken, medical research is conducted. Therapy is performed depending on the pathology that caused the low content of lymphocytes. The methods of treatment, of course, vary greatly. It's one thing to treat the flu, it's quite another thing - Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Increase in lymphocytes folk remedies

Traditional medicine offers many recipes for correcting the condition when the number of these white cells is reduced. For example, with lymphomas tinctures of celandine, nut are used. However, one should not rely on the fact that it will be possible to get rid of lymphoma by regularly using this or that folk remedy. In the treatment for the purpose of increasing the number of lymphocytes, tincture or decoction can serve as an additional means.


You can not start treatment with folk remedies without consulting your doctor,Because many of the ingredients used in the recipes have a side effect, which can be hazardous to health.


How to increase lymphocytes due to proper nutrition

Correction of the diet to people with low levels of lymphocytes is sometimes enough to quickly increase their blood levels to normal levels.If lymphocytes are lowered, it is not recommended to abuse alcohol. Recommendedreduce the amount of fat,increase the use of proteins (lean meat, fish),more often use foods with a high content of zinc and selenium.

The level of these cells remains normal, if the body does not experience vitamin C deficiency (fruits and vegetables). Still lImphocytes increase if you drink green tea and water regularly and in sufficient quantities.

Lifestyle with lymphopenia

Strengthen the immune system will help regular, but moderate exercise. It is necessary to avoid stress, not to abuse alcoholic beverages and not to smoke.

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