Is chronic neutropenia always a benign disease? Evidences from a 5-year prospective study

Bruno Fattizzo, Anna Zaninoni, Dario Consonni, Alberto Zanella, Umberto Gianelli, Agostino Cortelezzi, Wilma Barcellini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim To evaluate infections and oncohematologic evolution in adult patients with chronic idiopathic and autoimmune neutropenia in a prospective study. Patients and methods 76 consecutive patients were enrolled from September 2008 to April 2012. Complete blood counts and clinical evaluation were performed at enrolment, at month 3, 6, and then every 6 months. Anti-neutrophil antibodies were tested by GIFT method. Results Patients (49 chronic idiopathic- and 27 autoimmune neutropenia) were followed for a median of 5 years (range 24-84 months). At enrolment, neutropenia was mild in 44 patients (median neutrophils 1.27 × 103/μL), moderate in 23 (median 0.8 × 103/μL), and severe in 9 (median 0.4 × 103/μL). Neutrophil counts showed a great inter-subject but no intra-subject variability, with lower values in autoimmune neutropenia, in males, and in MGUS cases. Over time, no grade > 3 infections occurred; 13/49 chronic idiopathic and 6/27 autoimmune neutropenia patients experienced a grade 2 event, irrespective of mean and nadir neutrophil values. Bone marrow evaluation at enrolment showed reduced cellularity in 23% of cases, and dyserythropoietic features in 55%, with no definite hematologic diagnosis. During the follow-up, 5 cases were diagnosed with NK expansion, 4 with hairy cell leukemia, and 3 with myelodysplasia (1 myelomonocytic leukemia, 1 refractory cytopenia with unilineage dysplasia, and 1 multilineage dysplasia), with a median time to evolution of 30 months. Conclusion Chronic idiopathic and autoimmune neutropenia, although usually benign, deserve hematological follow-up with a bone marrow evaluation at diagnosis and a re-evaluation in the presence of worsening neutropenia, appearance of additional cytopenias, and lymphocytosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-615
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Autoimmune neutropenia
  • Chronic idiopathic neutropenia
  • Chronic NK expansion
  • Hairy cell leukemia
  • Myelodysplasia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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