Leukocytosis in obese individuals: Possible link in patients with unexplained persistent neutrophilia

Yair Herishanu, Ori Rogowski, Aaron Polliack, Rafael Marilus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Recently, it was shown that fat tissue produces and releases inflammatory cytokines, and that obesity may be regarded as a state of low-grade inflammation. In this regard, we aimed to establish an association between obesity and persistent leukocytosis. Patients and methods: We present clinical observations of obese subjects primarily referred for further evaluation of leukocytosis without a cause and validated the link between leukocytosis and elevated body mass index (BMI) in a cross-sectional study. Results: During 1999-2005, 327 patients were referred for further investigation because of persistent leukocytosis. Of these, 15.3% were asymptomatic obese, mostly females, with mild persistent neutrophilia accompanied by elevated acute-phase reactants. After careful evaluation, no recognized cause for leukocytosis was found other than the fact that the patients were obese. During a mean follow-up of 45.6 months, the leukocytosis and the elevated acute-phase reactants persisted and no new causes for leukocytosis were evident. Furthermore, in a cross-sectional analysis of 3716 non-smoker subjects, 62 were found to have leukocytosis. Compared with the population with a normal white blood count range, these subjects with leukocytosis had higher BMI, serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, waist circumference, and neutrophil and platelet count (all P < 0.0005). After logistic regression analysis, only BMI was shown to be associated with leukocytosis (P < 0.0005). Conclusions: Obesity is recognized as a possible cause for reactive leukocytosis. Awareness of this 'obesity-associated leukocytosis' may help the clinician to avoid more extensive and unnecessary diagnostic work-up, particularly in similar obese subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-520
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Haematology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute-phase reactants
  • C-reactive proteins
  • Leukocytosis
  • Neutrophilia
  • Obesity


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