Raised liver enzymes and low white blood cells are two separate conditions that have several mild to severe causes and indications. Both conditions can manifest from the same disease or its treatments. Your physician will typically address each issue separately while trying to determine the underlying factor.
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Raised Liver Enzymes
The liver participates in several metabolic, digestive and detoxification processes. It produces and secretes various enzymes that have functions throughout the body. Liver function tests measure the amount of liver enzymes and proteins in the blood. Increased levels of enzymes can indicate inflammation or infection damage to the liver, according to MayoClinic.com. Common causes of elevated liver enzymes include over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as acetaminophen and cholesterol-lowering statins; obesity; hepatitis A, B, and C; alcohol consumption; heart disease; and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, MayoClinic.com also notes that elevated liver enzymes do not signify a serious complication most of the time.
Low White Blood Cells
White blood cells participate in immunity, protecting the body from infection, disease and foreign bodies. Chronically low white blood cells can indicate serious complications with your bone marrow, the tissue responsible for producing white and red blood cells, according to MedlinePlus, an online resource of the National Institutes of Health. These include viral infections, autoimmune disease and cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
MedlinePlus reports that certain diseases that cause damage to liver cells can cause low white blood cells. These include hepatitis and fatty liver disease. Cirrhosis also contributes to low white blood cells, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In addition, any liver disease causes elevated liver enzymes.
Chemotherapy helps control the growth of cancerous cells, but it may also harm healthy cells in the process. Chemocare.com reports that raised liver enzymes and low white blood cells are both common side effects of chemotherapy. The severity of these side effects depends on the type, dose and frequency of your chemotherapy. MedlinePlus reports that chemotherapy side effects typically diminish and disappear after completion of treatment.
Certain medications cause both low white blood cells and elevated liver enzymes as side effects. These include methotrexate, used to treat psoriasis; asacol, used to treat ulcerative colitis; and clopidogrel, commonly known as Plavix, used to treat cardiovascular disease. If either side effect becomes serious, your physician will adjust your treatment as necessary.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- “Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach”; Dee Unglaub Silverthorn; 2006
- MayoClinic.com: Elevated Liver Enzymes; May 2011
- MedlinePlus: WBC Count; June 2011
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cirrhosis; December 2008
- MedlinePlus: Cancer Chemotherapy; July 2011
- Chemocare.com: Chemotherapy Side Effects
- Drugs.com: Methotrexate Side Effects
- Drugs.com: Asacol Side Effects
- Drugs.com: Plavix