Q:

What do low monocytes indicate?

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Quick Answer

A low number of monocytes in the blood usually indicates an increased risk for infections. A low monocyte blood count may occur because of a range of diseases that affect the bone marrow, such as rheumatoid arthritis, HIV or lupus.

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Full Answer

Monocytes are produced by the bone marrow and are a type of white blood cell. They account for up to 10 percent of the circulating white blood cells in the human body. Their main role is to destroy cancer cells and infectious organisms that invade the body. Monocytes spend a couple of hours in the bloodstream before migrating to tissue and maturing into macrophages. These are the main type of scavenger cells of the human immune system and help the body fight a number of bacterial and viral infections. A low monocyte blood cell count is known as "monocytopenia." According to Merck Manuals, a low number of monocytes in the blood is a common occurrence in patients receiving chemotherapy. This happens because the release of certain toxins in the blood can trigger monocytopenia. While a low number of monocytes does not indicate a certain condition in itself, it represents an alarm signal for an increased risk of infection and blood disorders.

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