How do viruses impact neutrophils?
April 4, 2005 11:19 AM   Subscribe

I know neutrophils fight bacteria. How do neutrophils and viruses interact? Can a virus reduce your neutrophil count?
posted by onhazier to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: From The Merck Manual :

"Transient neutropenia often accompanies viral infections (eg, early-stage infectious mononucleosis), and sepsis is a particularly serious cause of neutropenia. Neutropenia associated with common childhood viral diseases occurs during the first 1 to 2 days of illness and may persist for 3 to 8 days. It usually corresponds to a period of acute viremia and is related to virus-induced redistribution of neutrophils from the circulating to the marginal pool. Neutrophil sequestration may occur after viral tissue damage. Moderate to severe neutropenia may also be associated with a wide variety of other infections (see Table 135-2).

Chronic neutropenia often accompanies HIV infection, the result of impaired production of neutrophils and accelerated destruction of neutrophils by antibodies (see Ch. 145). Autoimmune neutropenias may be associated with the presence of circulating antineutrophil antibodies and may occur in isolation or with associated diseases."
posted by Ervin at 11:52 AM on April 4, 2005

(see a Doctor)
Neutrophils eat viruses and other cells infected by viruses.
Numbers of neutrophils can go down after or during a viral infection because many of the neutrophils leave the blood to fight the infection in the tissues and so normal blood values are reduced.
There's millions of online general reference sites but see a Doctor.

And on preview.....there's one reference.
posted by peacay at 11:57 AM on April 4, 2005

Neutrophils do not eat viruses, because they are unable to fight intracellular agents. In a viral infection, the role of the neutrophils is mostly to clean up the cellular debris, AFAIK.

Indeed, any person with netropenia should immediately see a doctor.
posted by Ervin at 12:10 PM on April 4, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the Merck reference, Ervin. My Google-fu had failed me.

I'm already under a doctor's care. I am just looking for more information on a comment she made about viruses causing your neutrophil count to drop.

I've had two blood tests showing very low neutrophil counts (700 followed by 439) despite all other counts being normal. We've ruled out a number of conditions. AFAIK, I do not have cancer and am not undergoing immunosuppressive chemotherapy. We're actually trying to figure out why I am constantly fighting sinus infections, bronchitis or the like. Tests, like last week's CAT scan, show the infections are real. Unfortunately, a week off antibiotics and I've got another infection.

In three weeks, she hopes I'll be healthy enough to get a base line neutrophil count to see if I have naturally occuring neutropenia. In the meantime, it looks like I'll become acquainted with an immunologist.
posted by onhazier at 12:32 PM on April 4, 2005

Ervin.......they do eat free viral particles. (yes there's citations) Other white cells are more involved of course. It's probably more true that neutrophils don't eat infected cells until, as you say, they have become cellular debris (my mistake). But this immune thing is sooooo complex - reducing it to bitesize understandable chunks gets confusing.
Glad you're under care onhazier...g'luck.
posted by peacay at 12:44 PM on April 4, 2005

peacay, thank you for the interesting information. I just wanted to point out that neutrophils are not able to destroy virus-infected cells.

You are certainly right about how difficult it is to bitesize.
posted by Ervin at 4:58 PM on April 4, 2005

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