Atypical Lymphocytosis: Causes & Treatment

Atypical lymphocytosis was defined as absolute lymphocytosis with >10% atypical lymphocytes. Absolute or relative mean values of various lymphocyte subsets from EBV-positive cases, EBV-negative cases, and normal controls were compared with the Student’s t-test.

Atypical lymphocytes are shown Below. These WBC’s are “atypical” because they are larger (more cytoplasm) and have nucleoli in their nuclei. The cytoplasm tends to be indented by surrounding RBC’s. Such atypical lymphocytes are often associated with infectious mononucleosis from Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection.

Picture of atypical WBC

Lymphocytosis is the term used to describe when white blood cells, particularly lymphocytes, are elevated. Each type of white blood cell has a different role in helping the immune system fight off antigens. T cell lymphocytes trigger antibody production. B cell lymphocytes detect the presence of antigens and stimulate other white blood cells in response.

While issues such as cancer or sexually transmitted diseases do cause an increase of white blood cells, they are not usually responsible for creating atypical lymphocytosis. An increase of lymphocytes occurs directly as a response to antigen exposure in the body. The term is just another way to describe normal immune system functions.

read more: Relative Lymphocytosis in Children and Adult

Atypical lymphocytosis is most commonly attributed to viral and bacterial illnesses. It can also be a result of some types of autoimmune disorders. Immunizations, drug reactions, and radiation or chemotherapy treatments can also cause elevated lymphocytes to become atypical.

A person of any age can develop atypical lymphocytosis, but there are some people who are more susceptible than others. Children under the age of two do not have a developed immune system. Adults with connective tissue diseases or otherwise weakened immune systems may have an increase of atypical lymphocytes. Patients with acute or chronic leukemia may also have an occurrence of atypical lymphocyte increases.

To determine the presence of atypical lymphocytosis, doctors perform standard blood tests. The lymphocyte count in the sample should be elevated. Once the increase is discovered, a peripheral blood smear is performed. A drop of blood is smeared onto a glass slide. The sample is dried, stained with a dye, and then dried again. Atypical lymphocytes will stain a darker blue than regular lymphocytes.

read more: Lymphocytosis: Should i Panic?

Causes Of Atypical Reactive Lymphocytes

Reactive lymphocytes or atypical lymphocytes are associated with viral or bacterial infections. However they may also be associated with other conditions include auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the common causes for atypical lymphocyte include,

  • Drug reactions or medications are often associated with atypical lymphocyte.
  • Immunization is also considered to result in formation of atypical lymphocytes.
  • Stress and hormonal changes are responsible for the condition. In individuals suffering from endocrinal disorders like Addison’s disease, atypical lymphocytes are commonly observed.
  • Exposure to radiations is another cause of atypical lymphocytes.
  • Bacterial and viral infections can result in formation of atypical lymphocytes.
  • Viral disease like cytomegalovirus, Epstein Barr Virus and Hepatitis C are common causes for atypical lymphocytes.
  • Bacterial infections like toxoplasmosis, Syphilis and Streptococcal infections can also stimulate the formation of atypical lymphocytes.

Atypical Lymphocyte PB

read more: Signs and Symptoms of Lymphocytosis

Treatment For Atypical Lymphocytes

There is no specific treatment available for the management of atypical lymphocyte. The treatment and management of the condition would depend upon the underlying cause for development of atypical lymphocytes.

Here are some simple home based treatments that have been found beneficial in the management of viral and bacterial infections that are responsible for atypical lymphocytes,

  • Increase the intake of citrus fruits like lemon, lime, oranges, etc. These fruits are high in vitamin C concentration and contribute towards enhancing immunity.
  • Add a teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of low fat milk. Curcumin in turmeric has strong anti microbial properties while milk is loaded with vitamins and minerals essential for production of normal lymphocytes.
  • Biochemic drugs like Calc Phos, Natrum Sulph, etc. are considered to improve the immune status of an individual and reduce the susceptibility of an individual to infections.
  • Dietary corrections may play a crucial role in improving immunity. Increase the intake of lean meat and chicken along with eggs, cereals and pulses. These foods are high in proteins and help in the production of normal lymphocytes.
  • Avoid the consumption of alcohol, which can have a detrimental effect on the liver and can result in altered production of lymphocytes.

read more: Reactive Lymphocytosis: Causes of Infections