Autoimmune neutropenia (AIN), also known as autoimmune leukopenia or autoimmune granulocytopenia, is a blood disorder in which a person's antibodies attack and destroy his or her own neutrophils, resulting in a decreased number of these cells. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell, or leukocyte, that helps the body fight off infection. Neutropenia is the general term for a decreased neutrophil count, regardless of the cause.
Persons with a low number of neutrophils are more prone to infection and can become very ill. The treatment needs of people with neutropenia vary depending on the severity of the neutropenia.
Autoimmune neutropenia has been reported in children as early as the second month of life, although most cases are diagnosed in children between 5 and 15 months of age. Girls have a slightly higher risk of developing AIN than boys.
Neutropenia, which may be discovered on routine blood tests, typically causes benign infections even when the condition is severe. Ear infections are the most common infection seen in autoimmune neutropenia and typically infection responds to antibiotic treatment alone.
Treatment of AIN consists of corticosteroids to reduce autoantibody production, antibiotics to prevent infection and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) to temporarily increase neutrophil counts.