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Anemia: Overview and Types

Anemia is a condition in which individuals have low Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange levels, which can arise from  various causes. Anemia is accompanied by a reduced number of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology and may manifest with fatigue Fatigue The state of weariness following a period of exertion, mental or physical, characterized by a decreased capacity for work and reduced efficiency to respond to stimuli. Fibromyalgia, shortness of breath Shortness of breath Dyspnea is the subjective sensation of breathing discomfort. Dyspnea is a normal manifestation of heavy physical or psychological exertion, but also may be caused by underlying conditions (both pulmonary and extrapulmonary). Dyspnea, pallor, and weakness. Subtypes are classified by the size of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology, chronicity, and etiology. Anemia may occur from blood loss, decreased RBC production such as in iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements deficiency, or increased RBC destruction such as in hemolysis. Management is aimed at improving Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange levels and treating the underlying conditions.

Last updated: 10 Mar, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Overview

Definition

Anemia is a quantitative deficiency of Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange, the oxygen-carrying component of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology. Anemia is noted when Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange levels are approximately:

  • < 13.5 g/dL in adult males
  • < 12 g/dL in adult females 
  • < 11 g/dL in children

Normal levels can vary depending on the laboratory reference range.

Epidemiology

  • Found in patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship of all ages, from infants to elderly
  • More common in women than in men
  • Prevalence Prevalence The total number of cases of a given disease in a specified population at a designated time. It is differentiated from incidence, which refers to the number of new cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency:
    •  > 20% of individuals who are > 85 years of age
    • Mild iron deficiency anemia Iron Deficiency Anemia Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia worldwide. This form of anemia is caused by insufficient iron due to a decreased supply, an increased loss, or an increased demand. Iron deficiency anemia is seen across all ages, sexes, and socioeconomic strata; however, children, women of childbearing age, and patients from lower socioeconomic strata are at higher risk. Iron Deficiency Anemia is common in women of reproductive age.
  • Hemoglobinopathies are more common in certain ethnicities:
    • Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of genetic disorders in which an abnormal Hb molecule (HbS) transforms RBCs into sickle-shaped cells, resulting in chronic anemia, vasoocclusive episodes, pain, and organ damage. Sickle Cell Disease: Black or African descent
    • Hereditary spherocytosis Hereditary Spherocytosis Hereditary spherocytosis (HS) is the most common type of hereditary hemolytic anemia. The condition is caused by a cytoskeletal protein deficiency in the RBC membrane. This results in loss of membrane stability and deformability of the RBC, giving the cell its spherical shape (spherocyte). Hereditary Spherocytosis: European descent
    • Thalassemia Thalassemia Thalassemia is a hereditary cause of microcytic hypochromic anemia and results from a deficiency in either the α or β globin chains, resulting in hemoglobinopathy. The presentation of thalassemia depends on the number of defective chains present and can range from being asymptomatic to rendering the more severely affected patients to be transfusion dependent. Thalassemia: Mediterranean and Southeast Asian descent

Anatomy and physiology review

  • RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology are produced in the bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow.
  • Pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells Hematopoietic stem cells Progenitor cells from which all blood cells derived. They are found primarily in the bone marrow and also in small numbers in the peripheral blood. Bone Marrow: Composition and Hematopoiesis → common myeloid stem cell → proerythroblast Proerythroblast Erythrocytes: Histology → erythrocyte
  • RBC production is stimulated by erythropoietin Erythropoietin Glycoprotein hormone, secreted chiefly by the kidney in the adult and the liver in the fetus, that acts on erythroid stem cells of the bone marrow to stimulate proliferation and differentiation. Erythrocytes: Histology, which is made in the kidneys Kidneys The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located retroperitoneally against the posterior wall of the abdomen on either side of the spine. As part of the urinary tract, the kidneys are responsible for blood filtration and excretion of water-soluble waste in the urine. Kidneys: Anatomy.
  • RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology are cleared through the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy: Senescent, rigid, or abnormal RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology unable to squeeze through the narrow splenic slits are retained and cleared.

Etiology

Anemia can be caused by:

  • Blood loss
  • Decreased RBC production
  • Increased RBC destruction

Classification of anemia according to etiology

Table: Classification of anemia according to etiology
Etiology Categories Types of anemia
Blood loss Acute
  • Trauma
  • Surgery
  • Postpartum hemorrhage Postpartum hemorrhage Postpartum hemorrhage is one of the most common and deadly obstetric complications. Since 2017, postpartum hemorrhage has been defined as blood loss greater than 1,000 mL for both cesarean and vaginal deliveries, or excessive blood loss with signs of hemodynamic instability. Postpartum Hemorrhage
  • Severe epistaxis Epistaxis Bleeding from the nose. Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis
Chronic
  • GI bleeding (upper or lower):
    • Peptic ulcer disease Peptic ulcer disease Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) refers to the full-thickness ulcerations of duodenal or gastric mucosa. The ulcerations form when exposure to acid and digestive enzymes overcomes mucosal defense mechanisms. The most common etiologies include Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection and prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Peptic Ulcer Disease
    • Diverticular disease Diverticular disease Diverticula are protrusions of the bowel wall occurring most commonly in the colon. The condition of having diverticula (called diverticulosis) is mostly asymptomatic. These diverticula can become symptomatic, however, when associated with diseases. Diverticulitis is the inflammation of diverticula, often presenting with lower abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits. Diverticular Disease
    • Cancer
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding Heavy menstrual bleeding Excessive menstrual blood loss (objectively defined as > 80 mL blood loss/cycle). Can be based on heavy flow, as determined by the patient Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
Decreased RBC production Abnormal proliferation or differentiation of stem cells
  • Aplastic anemia Aplastic Anemia Aplastic anemia (AA) is a rare, life-threatening condition characterized by pancytopenia and hypocellularity of the bone marrow (in the absence of any abnormal cells) reflecting damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic anemia can be acquired or inherited, however, most cases of AA are acquired and caused by autoimmune damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic Anemia
  • Pure red cell aplasia Aplasia Cranial Nerve Palsies
  • Anemia of renal failure Renal failure Conditions in which the kidneys perform below the normal level in the ability to remove wastes, concentrate urine, and maintain electrolyte balance; blood pressure; and calcium metabolism. Renal insufficiency can be classified by the degree of kidney damage (as measured by the level of proteinuria) and reduction in glomerular filtration rate. Crush Syndrome (due to ↓ erythropoietin Erythropoietin Glycoprotein hormone, secreted chiefly by the kidney in the adult and the liver in the fetus, that acts on erythroid stem cells of the bone marrow to stimulate proliferation and differentiation. Erythrocytes: Histology)
Defective DNA synthesis DNA synthesis Fluoroquinolones in erythroblasts
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Folate deficiency Folate deficiency A nutritional condition produced by a deficiency of folic acid in the diet. Many plant and animal tissues contain folic acid, abundant in green leafy vegetables, yeast, liver, and mushrooms but destroyed by long-term cooking. Alcohol interferes with its intermediate metabolism and absorption. Folic acid deficiency may develop in long-term anticonvulsant therapy or with use of oral contraceptives. This deficiency causes anemia, macrocytic anemia, and megaloblastic anemia. It is indistinguishable from vitamin B12 deficiency in peripheral blood and bone marrow findings, but the neurologic lesions seen in B12 deficiency do not occur. Megaloblastic Anemia
Defective Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange synthesis Synthesis Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
  • Defective heme synthesis Synthesis Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR):
    • Iron deficiency anemia Iron Deficiency Anemia Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia worldwide. This form of anemia is caused by insufficient iron due to a decreased supply, an increased loss, or an increased demand. Iron deficiency anemia is seen across all ages, sexes, and socioeconomic strata; however, children, women of childbearing age, and patients from lower socioeconomic strata are at higher risk. Iron Deficiency Anemia
    • Lead poisoning Lead poisoning Poisoning that results from chronic or acute ingestion, injection, inhalation, or skin absorption of lead or lead compounds. Metal Poisoning (Lead, Arsenic, Iron)
  • Defective globin chains:
    • Hemoglobinopathies, including sickle cell anemia Sickle cell anemia A disease characterized by chronic hemolytic anemia, episodic painful crises, and pathologic involvement of many organs. It is the clinical expression of homozygosity for hemoglobin S. Sickle Cell Disease
    • Thalassemias
Unknown or multiple mechanisms
  • Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemias are a heterogeneous group of bone marrow disorders characterized by abnormal iron accumulation in the mitochondria of erythroid precursors. The accumulated iron appears as granules in a ringlike distribution around the nucleus, giving rise to the characteristic morphological feature of a ring sideroblast. Sideroblastic Anemia
  • Anemia of chronic infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease
Increased RBC destruction Abnormal Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange
  • Sickle cell anemia Sickle cell anemia A disease characterized by chronic hemolytic anemia, episodic painful crises, and pathologic involvement of many organs. It is the clinical expression of homozygosity for hemoglobin S. Sickle Cell Disease
  • Thalassemias
Enzyme deficiencies
Membrane disorders
  • Spherocytosis
  • Elliptocytosis
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria Hemoglobinuria The presence of free hemoglobin in the urine, indicating hemolysis of erythrocytes within the vascular system. After saturating the hemoglobin-binding proteins (haptoglobins), free hemoglobin begins to appear in the urine. Transfusion Reactions ( PNH PNH Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare but serious acquired hemolytic anemia with periodic exacerbations. This anemia is caused by nonmalignant clonal expansion of ≥ 1 hematopoietic stem cells that have acquired a somatic mutation of the phosphatidylinositol n-acetylglucosaminyltransferase subunit a (pig-a) gene. Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria)
Immune-mediated
  • Autoimmune disease:
    • Idiopathic Idiopathic Dermatomyositis (primary)
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes immune-complex deposition in organs, resulting in systemic manifestations. Women, particularly those of African American descent, are more commonly affected. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
    • Malignant neoplasms Neoplasms New abnormal growth of tissue. Malignant neoplasms show a greater degree of anaplasia and have the properties of invasion and metastasis, compared to benign neoplasms. Benign Bone Tumors
  • Drug-associated:
  • Transfusion reactions Transfusion reactions Transfusion-related complications occur during or after a blood product is given. These complications can be classified as immunologic, non-immunologic and acute, and delayed. Non-immunologic reactions are caused by the transmission of disease in blood products, and immunologic reactions are antigen-antibody-mediated. Transfusion Reactions
Mechanical trauma to RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a life-threatening condition due to either a congenital or an acquired deficiency of ADAMTS-13, a metalloproteinase that cleaves multimers of von Willebrand factor (VWF). The large multimers then aggregate excessive platelets resulting in microvascular thrombosis and an increase in consumption of platelets. Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura ( TTP TTP Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a life-threatening condition due to either a congenital or an acquired deficiency of adamts-13, a metalloproteinase that cleaves multimers of von Willebrand factor (vWF). The large multimers then aggregate excessive platelets resulting in microvascular thrombosis and an increase in consumption of platelets. Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura)
  • DIC DIC Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition characterized by systemic bodywide activation of the coagulation cascade. This cascade results in both widespread microvascular thrombi contributing to multiple organ dysfunction and consumption of clotting factors and platelets, leading to hemorrhage. Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
  • Cardiac Cardiac Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR) trauma
Infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease
  • Malaria Malaria Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease affecting humans and other animals. Most commonly transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with microorganisms of the Plasmodium genus. Patients present with fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and diaphoresis. Plasmodium/Malaria
  • Hookworm

Classification

Anemia is most commonly classified into the subtype microcytic, normocytic, or macrocytic based on the size of the RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology. MCV reflects the size of the RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology and is reported on a CBC.

Anemia overview chart

Classification of anemia based on the MCV

Image by Lecturio.

Microcytic anemia

Microcytic anemia is characterized by small RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology with a low MCV. These features are usually due to a decreased Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange content within the RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology. Causes include:

  • Iron deficiency anemia Iron Deficiency Anemia Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia worldwide. This form of anemia is caused by insufficient iron due to a decreased supply, an increased loss, or an increased demand. Iron deficiency anemia is seen across all ages, sexes, and socioeconomic strata; however, children, women of childbearing age, and patients from lower socioeconomic strata are at higher risk. Iron Deficiency Anemia
    • The most common cause of anemia
    • Causes include:
      • Chronic GI blood loss
      • Chronic heavy menstrual bleeding Heavy menstrual bleeding Excessive menstrual blood loss (objectively defined as > 80 mL blood loss/cycle). Can be based on heavy flow, as determined by the patient Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
      • Malabsorption Malabsorption General term for a group of malnutrition syndromes caused by failure of normal intestinal absorption of nutrients. Malabsorption and Maldigestion of iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements in chronic GI disease (e.g., Crohn’s or celiac disease Celiac disease Celiac disease (also known as celiac sprue or gluten enteropathy) is an autoimmune reaction to gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Celiac disease is closely associated with HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8. The immune response is localized to the proximal small intestine and causes the characteristic histologic findings of villous atrophy, crypt hyperplasia, and intraepithelial lymphocytosis. Celiac Disease)
      • Insufficient dietary iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements
      • Pregnancy Pregnancy The status during which female mammals carry their developing young (embryos or fetuses) in utero before birth, beginning from fertilization to birth. Pregnancy: Diagnosis, Physiology, and Care
  • Thalassemia Thalassemia Thalassemia is a hereditary cause of microcytic hypochromic anemia and results from a deficiency in either the α or β globin chains, resulting in hemoglobinopathy. The presentation of thalassemia depends on the number of defective chains present and can range from being asymptomatic to rendering the more severely affected patients to be transfusion dependent. Thalassemia
  • Anemia of chronic disease (later stages)
  • Lead poisoning Lead poisoning Poisoning that results from chronic or acute ingestion, injection, inhalation, or skin absorption of lead or lead compounds. Metal Poisoning (Lead, Arsenic, Iron)
  • Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemias are a heterogeneous group of bone marrow disorders characterized by abnormal iron accumulation in the mitochondria of erythroid precursors. The accumulated iron appears as granules in a ringlike distribution around the nucleus, giving rise to the characteristic morphological feature of a ring sideroblast. Sideroblastic Anemia

Mnemonic:

To remember the causes of microcytic anemia use the mnemonic TAILS:

  • Thalassemia
  • Anemia of chronic disease
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Lead poisoning
  • Sideroblastic anemia

Normocytic anemia

Normocytic anemias have a normal MCV. Often, the reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology count is used to help narrow the differential diagnosis. (Reticulocytes are “new” blood cells in circulation Circulation The movement of the blood as it is pumped through the cardiovascular system. ABCDE Assessment, and their level reflects the rate of new RBC production.) Causes of normocytic anemia include:

Hemolytic anemias:

  • Will have a corrected reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology count > 3%: indicates normally functioning bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow
  • Caused by intrinsic RBC defects:
    • Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of genetic disorders in which an abnormal Hb molecule (HbS) transforms RBCs into sickle-shaped cells, resulting in chronic anemia, vasoocclusive episodes, pain, and organ damage. Sickle Cell Disease
    • G6PD G6PD Pentose Phosphate Pathway deficiency
    • PNH PNH Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare but serious acquired hemolytic anemia with periodic exacerbations. This anemia is caused by nonmalignant clonal expansion of ≥ 1 hematopoietic stem cells that have acquired a somatic mutation of the phosphatidylinositol n-acetylglucosaminyltransferase subunit a (pig-a) gene. Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria
    • Hereditary spherocytosis Hereditary Spherocytosis Hereditary spherocytosis (HS) is the most common type of hereditary hemolytic anemia. The condition is caused by a cytoskeletal protein deficiency in the RBC membrane. This results in loss of membrane stability and deformability of the RBC, giving the cell its spherical shape (spherocyte). Hereditary Spherocytosis
  • Causes due to extrinsic defects:
    • Autoimmune hemolytic anemias (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes immune-complex deposition in organs, resulting in systemic manifestations. Women, particularly those of African American descent, are more commonly affected. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
    • Microangiopathic hemolytic anemia Microangiopathic Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (e.g., TTP TTP Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a life-threatening condition due to either a congenital or an acquired deficiency of adamts-13, a metalloproteinase that cleaves multimers of von Willebrand factor (vWF). The large multimers then aggregate excessive platelets resulting in microvascular thrombosis and an increase in consumption of platelets. Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, hemolytic uremic syndrome Hemolytic uremic syndrome A syndrome that is associated with microvascular diseases of the kidney, such as renal cortical necrosis. It is characterized by hemolytic anemia; thrombocytopenia; and acute renal failure. Hypocoagulable Conditions ( HUS HUS Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a clinical phenomenon most commonly seen in children that consists of a classic triad of microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and acute kidney injury. Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a major cause of acute kidney injury in children and is most commonly associated with a prodrome of diarrheal illness caused by shiga-like toxin-producing bacteria. Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome), DIC DIC Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition characterized by systemic bodywide activation of the coagulation cascade. This cascade results in both widespread microvascular thrombi contributing to multiple organ dysfunction and consumption of clotting factors and platelets, leading to hemorrhage. Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation)
    • Macroangiopathic hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia (e.g., with prosthetic heart valves or aortic stenosis Stenosis Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS))
    • Infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease (e.g., malaria Malaria Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease affecting humans and other animals. Most commonly transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with microorganisms of the Plasmodium genus. Patients present with fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and diaphoresis. Plasmodium/Malaria)

Nonhemolytic anemias: 

  • Will have corrected reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology count < 3%: indicates that the bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow is not responding to the stressor, leading to underproduction of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology
  • Causes:
    • Anemia of chronic disease (earlier stages), usually CKD CKD Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is kidney impairment that lasts for ≥ 3 months, implying that it is irreversible. Hypertension and diabetes are the most common causes; however, there are a multitude of other etiologies. In the early to moderate stages, CKD is usually asymptomatic and is primarily diagnosed by laboratory abnormalities. Chronic Kidney Disease
    • Anemia of congestive heart failure Heart Failure A heterogeneous condition in which the heart is unable to pump out sufficient blood to meet the metabolic need of the body. Heart failure can be caused by structural defects, functional abnormalities (ventricular dysfunction), or a sudden overload beyond its capacity. Chronic heart failure is more common than acute heart failure which results from sudden insult to cardiac function, such as myocardial infarction. Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR) ( CHF CHF Congestive heart failure refers to the inability of the heart to supply the body with normal cardiac output to meet metabolic needs. Echocardiography can confirm the diagnosis and give information about the ejection fraction. Congestive Heart Failure)
    • Anemia due to endocrine deficiency (e.g., hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by a deficiency of thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause worldwide, but Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune thyroiditis) is the leading cause in non-iodine-deficient regions. Hypothyroidism or adrenal insufficiency Adrenal Insufficiency Conditions in which the production of adrenal corticosteroids falls below the requirement of the body. Adrenal insufficiency can be caused by defects in the adrenal glands, the pituitary gland, or the hypothalamus. Adrenal Insufficiency and Addison’s Disease)
    • Diabetes Diabetes Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia and dysfunction of the regulation of glucose metabolism by insulin. Type 1 DM is diagnosed mostly in children and young adults as the result of autoimmune destruction of β cells in the pancreas and the resulting lack of insulin. Type 2 DM has a significant association with obesity and is characterized by insulin resistance. Diabetes Mellitus mellitus
    • Obesity Obesity Obesity is a condition associated with excess body weight, specifically with the deposition of excessive adipose tissue. Obesity is considered a global epidemic. Major influences come from the western diet and sedentary lifestyles, but the exact mechanisms likely include a mixture of genetic and environmental factors. Obesity
    • Malignancy Malignancy Hemothorax
    • Aplastic anemias
    • Blood loss < 1 week ago ( bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow working properly, but has not yet had enough time to catch up with blood loss)

Macrocytic anemia

Macrocytic anemias have an elevated MCV, or large RCBs. Causes include: 

  • Megaloblastic anemias (the problem is within the bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow):
    • Deficiencies of vitamins needed for proper DNA synthesis DNA synthesis Fluoroquinolones (due to either insufficient dietary intake or malabsorption Malabsorption General term for a group of malnutrition syndromes caused by failure of normal intestinal absorption of nutrients. Malabsorption and Maldigestion):
      • Vitamin B12 deficiency 
      • Folate deficiency Folate deficiency A nutritional condition produced by a deficiency of folic acid in the diet. Many plant and animal tissues contain folic acid, abundant in green leafy vegetables, yeast, liver, and mushrooms but destroyed by long-term cooking. Alcohol interferes with its intermediate metabolism and absorption. Folic acid deficiency may develop in long-term anticonvulsant therapy or with use of oral contraceptives. This deficiency causes anemia, macrocytic anemia, and megaloblastic anemia. It is indistinguishable from vitamin B12 deficiency in peripheral blood and bone marrow findings, but the neurologic lesions seen in B12 deficiency do not occur. Megaloblastic Anemia
    • Rare causes:
      • Diamond-Blackfan anemia Diamond-Blackfan anemia A rare congenital hypoplastic anemia that usually presents early in infancy. The disease is characterized by a moderate to severe macrocytic anemia, occasional neutropenia or thrombocytosis, a normocellular bone marrow with erythroid hypoplasia, and an increased risk of developing leukemia. Aplastic Anemia: a congenital Congenital Chorioretinitis erythroid aplasia Aplasia Cranial Nerve Palsies that usually presents in infancy; WBCs and platelets Platelets Platelets are small cell fragments involved in hemostasis. Thrombopoiesis takes place primarily in the bone marrow through a series of cell differentiation and is influenced by several cytokines. Platelets are formed after fragmentation of the megakaryocyte cytoplasm. Platelets: Histology are usually normal
      • Orotic aciduria Orotic aciduria Orotic aciduria is an extremely rare genetic disorder that can result in crystalluria, megaloblastic anemia, developmental delay, and failure to thrive. The disorder is caused by an enzyme deficiency in the pyrimidine synthesis pathway resulting in the accumulation of orotic acid. Orotic Aciduria: autosomal recessive Autosomal recessive Autosomal inheritance, both dominant and recessive, refers to the transmission of genes from the 22 autosomal chromosomes. Autosomal recessive diseases are only expressed when 2 copies of the recessive allele are inherited. Autosomal Recessive and Autosomal Dominant Inheritance disease presenting with physical and intellectual delays in infancy, resulting from defects in the metabolism of orotic acid 
  • Nonmegaloblastic anemias (the problem is outside the bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow); can be due to:
    • Liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy disease
    • Alcohol use disorder Alcohol use disorder Alcohol is one of the most commonly used addictive substances in the world. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is defined as pathologic consumption of alcohol leading to impaired daily functioning. Acute alcohol intoxication presents with impairment in speech and motor functions and can be managed in most cases with supportive care. Alcohol Use Disorder
    • Reticulocytosis
    • Drugs (many)

Other ways to classify anemia

  • Acute or chronic 
  • Inherited or acquired defects
  • Primary or secondary

Clinical Presentation

History

Important details when considering a diagnosis of anemia:

  • History of eating disorder
  • History of gastric or intestinal surgery
  • Family history Family History Adult Health Maintenance of hematologic diseases
  • Medications that cause or worsen bleeding
  • Medications that may cause hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia
  • Travel history
  • Special diet that may lead to a vitamin deficiency (e.g., vegan)
  • Amount of alcohol use

Symptoms and physical exam findings

Symptoms develop based on the rate and severity of Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange decrease from baseline. Anemia is also often asymptomatic and found on laboratory studies only.

Table: Clinical presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor of anemia
Body region/organ system Symptoms Possible physical exam findings
General
  • Fatigue Fatigue The state of weariness following a period of exertion, mental or physical, characterized by a decreased capacity for work and reduced efficiency to respond to stimuli. Fibromyalgia
  • Generalized weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Restless legs Restless legs A disorder characterized by aching or burning sensations in the lower and rarely the upper extremities that occur prior to sleep or may awaken the patient from sleep. Polyneuropathy
  • Pica Pica Pica is an eating disorder characterized by a desire or recurrent compulsion to eat substances that are nonnutritive and not food. These compulsions and ingested substances are inappropriate for age or culture. Pica (eating nonfood substances like ice or clay)
  • Pallor
  • Lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy is lymph node enlargement (> 1 cm) and is benign and self-limited in most patients. Etiologies include malignancy, infection, and autoimmune disorders, as well as iatrogenic causes such as the use of certain medications. Generalized lymphadenopathy often indicates underlying systemic disease. Lymphadenopathy
Integumentary
  • Itching
  • Dry skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions
  • Easy bruising Easy bruising Chédiak-Higashi Syndrome
  • Pallor
  • Jaundice Jaundice Jaundice is the abnormal yellowing of the skin and/or sclera caused by the accumulation of bilirubin. Hyperbilirubinemia is caused by either an increase in bilirubin production or a decrease in the hepatic uptake, conjugation, or excretion of bilirubin. Jaundice
  • Purpura
  • Nails with koilonychia Koilonychia Iron Deficiency Anemia (“spoon nails”)
Cardiorespiratory
  • Chest pain Chest Pain Chest pain is one of the most common and challenging complaints that may present in an inpatient and outpatient setting. The differential diagnosis of chest pain is large and includes cardiac, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, and psychiatric etiologies. Chest Pain
  • Palpitations Palpitations Ebstein’s Anomaly
  • Dyspnea Dyspnea Dyspnea is the subjective sensation of breathing discomfort. Dyspnea is a normal manifestation of heavy physical or psychological exertion, but also may be caused by underlying conditions (both pulmonary and extrapulmonary). Dyspnea
  • Tachycardia Tachycardia Abnormally rapid heartbeat, usually with a heart rate above 100 beats per minute for adults. Tachycardia accompanied by disturbance in the cardiac depolarization (cardiac arrhythmia) is called tachyarrhythmia. Sepsis in Children
  • Tachypnea Tachypnea Increased respiratory rate. Pulmonary Examination
  • Orthostatic hypotension Orthostatic hypotension A significant drop in blood pressure after assuming a standing position. Orthostatic hypotension is a finding, and defined as a 20-mm hg decrease in systolic pressure or a 10-mm hg decrease in diastolic pressure 3 minutes after the person has risen from supine to standing. Symptoms generally include dizziness, blurred vision, and syncope. Hypotension
  • Signs of CHF CHF Congestive heart failure refers to the inability of the heart to supply the body with normal cardiac output to meet metabolic needs. Echocardiography can confirm the diagnosis and give information about the ejection fraction. Congestive Heart Failure:
    • Jugular venous pressure Jugular Venous Pressure Portal Hypertension
    • S3 S3 Heart Sounds
    • Respiratory crackles
    • Ankle edema Edema Edema is a condition in which excess serous fluid accumulates in the body cavity or interstitial space of connective tissues. Edema is a symptom observed in several medical conditions. It can be categorized into 2 types, namely, peripheral (in the extremities) and internal (in an organ or body cavity). Edema
Head, eyes, ears, nose Nose The nose is the human body’s primary organ of smell and functions as part of the upper respiratory system. The nose may be best known for inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, but it also contributes to other important functions, such as tasting. The anatomy of the nose can be divided into the external nose and the nasal cavity. Nose and Nasal Cavity: Anatomy, and throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy (HEENT) Epistaxis Epistaxis Bleeding from the nose. Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis
  • Pale conjunctiva Conjunctiva The mucous membrane that covers the posterior surface of the eyelids and the anterior pericorneal surface of the eyeball. Eye: Anatomy
  • Atrophic glossitis
Neurologic
  • Headaches
  • Light-headedness
  • Paresthesias Paresthesias Subjective cutaneous sensations (e.g., cold, warmth, tingling, pressure, etc.) that are experienced spontaneously in the absence of stimulation. Posterior Cord Syndrome
  • Decreased sensation
  • Abnormal reflexes
GI/abdomen
  • Hematochezia Hematochezia Gastrointestinal Bleeding/rectal bleeding
  • Melena Melena The black, tarry, foul-smelling feces that contain degraded blood. Gastrointestinal Bleeding
  • Diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
  • Hematemesis Hematemesis Vomiting of blood that is either fresh bright red, or older ‘coffee-ground’ in character. It generally indicates bleeding of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Mallory-Weiss Syndrome (Mallory-Weiss Tear)
  • Hepatomegaly
  • Splenomegaly Splenomegaly Splenomegaly is pathologic enlargement of the spleen that is attributable to numerous causes, including infections, hemoglobinopathies, infiltrative processes, and outflow obstruction of the portal vein. Splenomegaly
  • Hemorrhoids Hemorrhoids Hemorrhoids are normal vascular cushions in the anal canal composed of dilated vascular tissue, smooth muscle, and connective tissue. They do not cause issues unless they are enlarged, inflamed, thrombosed, or prolapsed. Patients often present with rectal bleeding of bright red blood, or they may have pain, perianal pruritus, or a palpable mass. Hemorrhoids
  • Rectal mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast
Genitourinary
  • Enlarged uterus Uterus The uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes are part of the internal female reproductive system. The uterus has a thick wall made of smooth muscle (the myometrium) and an inner mucosal layer (the endometrium). The most inferior portion of the uterus is the cervix, which connects the uterine cavity to the vagina. Uterus, Cervix, and Fallopian Tubes: Anatomy

Diagnosis

The diagnostic process typically starts by assessing the CBC, MCV, and reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology count, which are best evaluated simultaneously to start narrowing the differential diagnosis. Additional studies may be obtained on the basis of the patient’s clinical presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor.

Serologic studies

  • CBC findings: 
    • Decreased Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange (component of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology)
    • Decreased Hct (ratio of the volume of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology to the volume of blood, expressed as a percentage)
    • MCV: helps narrow the differential diagnosis
    • Pancytopenia Pancytopenia Deficiency of all three cell elements of the blood, erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets. Aplastic Anemia: usually seen in megaloblastic anemia Megaloblastic anemia Megaloblastic anemia is a subset of macrocytic anemias that arises because of impaired nucleic acid synthesis in erythroid precursors. This impairment leads to ineffective RBC production and intramedullary hemolysis that is characterized by large cells with arrested nuclear maturation. The most common causes are vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies. Megaloblastic Anemia 
    • Factors that elevate Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange and may mask underlying anemia:
  • Reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology evaluation:
    • Reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology count: 
      • Reticulocytes are immature RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology in circulation Circulation The movement of the blood as it is pumped through the cardiovascular system. ABCDE Assessment
      • Can be expressed as a percentage of all RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology or as an absolute number
    • Reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology count indicates:
      • Hemolysis
      • Recovery from bleeding
      • Removal of a bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow insult (e.g., drug)
      • Repletion of deficient nutrients
    • Corrected reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology counts: 
      • Reveals adequate versus inadequate bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow response
      • Calculation: Reticulocyte Reticulocyte Immature erythrocytes. In humans, these are erythroid cells that have just undergone extrusion of their cell nucleus. They still contain some organelles that gradually decrease in number as the cells mature. Ribosomes are last to disappear. Certain staining techniques cause components of the ribosomes to precipitate into characteristic ‘reticulum’ (not the same as the endoplasmic reticulum), hence the name reticulocytes. Erythrocytes: Histology count × (patient’s Hct/reference Hct)
  • Iron studies Iron Studies Iron Deficiency Anemia
    • Includes: 
      • Serum iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements
      • Transferrin Transferrin An iron-binding beta1-globulin that is synthesized in the liver and secreted into the blood. It plays a central role in the transport of iron throughout the circulation. Heme Metabolism and transferrin Transferrin An iron-binding beta1-globulin that is synthesized in the liver and secreted into the blood. It plays a central role in the transport of iron throughout the circulation. Heme Metabolism saturation
      • Ferritin Ferritin Iron-containing proteins that are widely distributed in animals, plants, and microorganisms. Their major function is to store iron in a nontoxic bioavailable form. Each ferritin molecule consists of ferric iron in a hollow protein shell (apoferritins) made of 24 subunits of various sequences depending on the species and tissue types. Hereditary Hemochromatosis
      • Total binding iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements capacity
    • ↓ Level of total body iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements iron deficiency anemia Iron Deficiency Anemia Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia worldwide. This form of anemia is caused by insufficient iron due to a decreased supply, an increased loss, or an increased demand. Iron deficiency anemia is seen across all ages, sexes, and socioeconomic strata; however, children, women of childbearing age, and patients from lower socioeconomic strata are at higher risk. Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • Laboratory tests when hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia is suspected:
    • Haptoglobin: ↓ with hemolysis 
    • Lactate dehydrogenase Lactate Dehydrogenase Osteosarcoma: ↑ with hemolysis
    • Indirect bilirubin Indirect Bilirubin Liver Function Tests: ↑ with hemolysis 
    • Direct Coombs test: detects antibodies Antibodies Immunoglobulins (Igs), also known as antibodies, are glycoprotein molecules produced by plasma cells that act in immune responses by recognizing and binding particular antigens. The various Ig classes are IgG (the most abundant), IgM, IgE, IgD, and IgA, which differ in their biologic features, structure, target specificity, and distribution. Immunoglobulins: Types and Functions attached to RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology, such as in erythroblastosis fetalis Erythroblastosis fetalis Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN), also known as erythroblastosis fetalis, is caused by maternal IgG antibody destruction of the fetal RBCs. Rhesus (Rh) blood group incompatibility (frequently triggered by D antigen) and ABO incompatibility are common causes. Hemolytic Disease of the Fetus and Newborn (due to Rh incompatibility Rh Incompatibility Hemolytic Disease of the Fetus and Newborn)
    • Indirect Coombs test: detects antibodies Antibodies Immunoglobulins (Igs), also known as antibodies, are glycoprotein molecules produced by plasma cells that act in immune responses by recognizing and binding particular antigens. The various Ig classes are IgG (the most abundant), IgM, IgE, IgD, and IgA, which differ in their biologic features, structure, target specificity, and distribution. Immunoglobulins: Types and Functions against foreign RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology, which are present in autoimmune hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia 
  • Other serologic tests:
    • CMP: to evaluate renal and hepatic function
    • Thyroid-stimulating hormone Thyroid-stimulating hormone A glycoprotein hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. Thyrotropin stimulates thyroid gland by increasing the iodide transport, synthesis and release of thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). Thyroid Hormones (TSH)
    • Vitamin B12 level
    • Folate Folate Folate and vitamin B12 are 2 of the most clinically important water-soluble vitamins. Deficiencies can present with megaloblastic anemia, GI symptoms, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and adverse pregnancy complications, including neural tube defects. Folate and Vitamin B12 level

Peripheral blood smear Blood smear Myeloperoxidase Deficiency

A peripheral blood smear Blood smear Myeloperoxidase Deficiency can be helpfuling in establishing the underlying cause of an anemia.

Table: Abnormal RBC findings in a peripheral blood smear Blood smear Myeloperoxidase Deficiency
Abnormality Description Associated pathology
Sickle cells Sickle-shaped cells
  • Sickle cell anemia Sickle cell anemia A disease characterized by chronic hemolytic anemia, episodic painful crises, and pathologic involvement of many organs. It is the clinical expression of homozygosity for hemoglobin S. Sickle Cell Disease
Howell-Jolly bodies Howell-Jolly Bodies Asplenia Peripherally located purple bodies representing nuclear remnants of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology
  • Sickle cell anemia Sickle cell anemia A disease characterized by chronic hemolytic anemia, episodic painful crises, and pathologic involvement of many organs. It is the clinical expression of homozygosity for hemoglobin S. Sickle Cell Disease
  • Asplenia Asplenia Asplenia is the absence of splenic tissue or function and can stem from several factors ranging from congenital to iatrogenic. There is a distinction between anatomic asplenia, which is due to the surgical removal of the spleen, and functional asplenia, which is due to a condition that leads to splenic atrophy, infarct, congestion, or infiltrative disease. Asplenia
Bite cells (degmacytes) RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology with loss of semicircular portions G6PD G6PD Pentose Phosphate Pathway
Heinz bodies Heinz bodies Abnormal intracellular inclusions, composed of denatured hemoglobin, found on the membrane of red blood cells. They are seen in thalassemias, enzymopathies, hemoglobinopathies, and after splenectomy. Asplenia Red-pink inclusions within RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology representing aggregates of abnormal Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange
Spherocytes Dense, small spherical cells with no central pallor
  • Hereditary spherocytosis Hereditary Spherocytosis Hereditary spherocytosis (HS) is the most common type of hereditary hemolytic anemia. The condition is caused by a cytoskeletal protein deficiency in the RBC membrane. This results in loss of membrane stability and deformability of the RBC, giving the cell its spherical shape (spherocyte). Hereditary Spherocytosis
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia
Schistocytes Schistocytes Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Irregularly shaped RBC fragments Due to mechanical damage:
Normoblasts Nucleated RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology Severe hemolysis
Target cells (codocytes) Bull’s-eye appearance (central area of hemoglobinization)
  • Hemoglobinopathies :
    • Thalassemia Thalassemia Thalassemia is a hereditary cause of microcytic hypochromic anemia and results from a deficiency in either the α or β globin chains, resulting in hemoglobinopathy. The presentation of thalassemia depends on the number of defective chains present and can range from being asymptomatic to rendering the more severely affected patients to be transfusion dependent. Thalassemia
    • HbC disease
  • Liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy disease
  • Asplenia Asplenia Asplenia is the absence of splenic tissue or function and can stem from several factors ranging from congenital to iatrogenic. There is a distinction between anatomic asplenia, which is due to the surgical removal of the spleen, and functional asplenia, which is due to a condition that leads to splenic atrophy, infarct, congestion, or infiltrative disease. Asplenia
Basophilic stippling Purple-blue dots within RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology representing ribosomal precipitates
  • Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemias are a heterogeneous group of bone marrow disorders characterized by abnormal iron accumulation in the mitochondria of erythroid precursors. The accumulated iron appears as granules in a ringlike distribution around the nucleus, giving rise to the characteristic morphological feature of a ring sideroblast. Sideroblastic Anemia
  • Lead poisoning Lead poisoning Poisoning that results from chronic or acute ingestion, injection, inhalation, or skin absorption of lead or lead compounds. Metal Poisoning (Lead, Arsenic, Iron)
  • Thalassemias
Dacrocytes ( teardrop cells Teardrop Cells Primary Myelofibrosis) Teardrop-shaped RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology Due to bone marrow infiltration Bone Marrow Infiltration Multiple Myeloma:
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
Macroovalocytes Large, oval-shaped erythrocytes Erythrocytes Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology Megaloblastic anemia Megaloblastic anemia Megaloblastic anemia is a subset of macrocytic anemias that arises because of impaired nucleic acid synthesis in erythroid precursors. This impairment leads to ineffective RBC production and intramedullary hemolysis that is characterized by large cells with arrested nuclear maturation. The most common causes are vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies. Megaloblastic Anemia

Additional tests based on clinical presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor

  • Copper Copper A heavy metal trace element with the atomic symbol cu, atomic number 29, and atomic weight 63. 55. Trace Elements level for deficiency 
  • Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange electrophoresis Electrophoresis An electrochemical process in which macromolecules or colloidal particles with a net electric charge migrate in a solution under the influence of an electric current. Blotting Techniques
  • Serum protein electrophoresis Electrophoresis An electrochemical process in which macromolecules or colloidal particles with a net electric charge migrate in a solution under the influence of an electric current. Blotting Techniques
  • EGD and colonoscopy Colonoscopy Endoscopic examination, therapy or surgery of the luminal surface of the colon. Colorectal Cancer Screening: to assess for occult source of GI bleeding, especially > 50 years of age
  • Bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow biopsy Biopsy Removal and pathologic examination of specimens from the living body. Ewing Sarcoma:
    • Important to consider if other cell lines abnormal 
      • Leukopenia
      • Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia occurs when the platelet count is < 150,000 per microliter. The normal range for platelets is usually 150,000-450,000/µL of whole blood. Thrombocytopenia can be a result of decreased production, increased destruction, or splenic sequestration of platelets. Patients are often asymptomatic until platelet counts are < 50,000/µL. Thrombocytopenia
    • Abnormal findings
      • Ringed sideroblasts: sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemias are a heterogeneous group of bone marrow disorders characterized by abnormal iron accumulation in the mitochondria of erythroid precursors. The accumulated iron appears as granules in a ringlike distribution around the nucleus, giving rise to the characteristic morphological feature of a ring sideroblast. Sideroblastic Anemia or lead poisoning Lead poisoning Poisoning that results from chronic or acute ingestion, injection, inhalation, or skin absorption of lead or lead compounds. Metal Poisoning (Lead, Arsenic, Iron) 
      • Hypocellular bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow (dry bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow tap): aplastic anemia Aplastic Anemia Aplastic anemia (AA) is a rare, life-threatening condition characterized by pancytopenia and hypocellularity of the bone marrow (in the absence of any abnormal cells) reflecting damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic anemia can be acquired or inherited, however, most cases of AA are acquired and caused by autoimmune damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic Anemia
      • > 20% blasts Blasts Injuries resulting when a person is struck by particles impelled with violent force from an explosion. Blast causes pulmonary contusion and hemorrhage, laceration of other thoracic and abdominal viscera, ruptured ear drums, and minor effects in the central nervous system. Blunt Chest Trauma: leukemia 

Management

Restore blood counts

  • Allow the body to replenish its own RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology:
    • Supplementation of missing nutrients
    • Stop pathologic bleeding.
    • Treat underlying disease.
  • Transfusion of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology to maintain Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange
    • > 7 g/dL in a majority of patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship
    • > 8 g/dL in patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with cardiovascular disease

Educate the patient regarding lifestyle

If lifestyle factors are thought to be contributing to the anemia, education can be provided regarding:

  • Alcohol use
  • Smoking Smoking Willful or deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from burning substances or agents held by hand. Interstitial Lung Diseases
  • Adequate dietary intake and supplementation

Treat the underlying cause

  • Oral nutrient replacement for nutrient deficiencies:
    • Iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements
    • Vitamin B12
    • Folate Folate Folate and vitamin B12 are 2 of the most clinically important water-soluble vitamins. Deficiencies can present with megaloblastic anemia, GI symptoms, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and adverse pregnancy complications, including neural tube defects. Folate and Vitamin B12
  • Address malabsorption Malabsorption General term for a group of malnutrition syndromes caused by failure of normal intestinal absorption of nutrients. Malabsorption and Maldigestion issues (e.g., celiac sprue).
  • Treat source of bleeding if pathologic, for example:
    • Malignancy Malignancy Hemothorax:
      • Endometrial cancer Endometrial Cancer Endometrial carcinoma (EC) is the most common gynecologic malignancy in the developed world, and it has several histologic types. Endometrioid carcinoma (known as type 1 EC) typically develops from atypical endometrial hyperplasia, is hormonally responsive, and carries a favorable prognosis. Endometrial Hyperplasia and Endometrial Cancer
      • Colon Colon The large intestines constitute the last portion of the digestive system. The large intestine consists of the cecum, appendix, colon (with ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid segments), rectum, and anal canal. The primary function of the colon is to remove water and compact the stool prior to expulsion from the body via the rectum and anal canal. Colon, Cecum, and Appendix: Anatomy, gastric, or other GI malignancy Malignancy Hemothorax
    • Peptic ulcer disease Peptic ulcer disease Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) refers to the full-thickness ulcerations of duodenal or gastric mucosa. The ulcerations form when exposure to acid and digestive enzymes overcomes mucosal defense mechanisms. The most common etiologies include Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection and prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Peptic Ulcer Disease
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., ulcerative colitis Colitis Inflammation of the colon section of the large intestine, usually with symptoms such as diarrhea (often with blood and mucus), abdominal pain, and fever. Pseudomembranous Colitis)
    • Severe diverticular disease Diverticular disease Diverticula are protrusions of the bowel wall occurring most commonly in the colon. The condition of having diverticula (called diverticulosis) is mostly asymptomatic. These diverticula can become symptomatic, however, when associated with diseases. Diverticulitis is the inflammation of diverticula, often presenting with lower abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits. Diverticular Disease 
  • Treat underlying chronic diseases, as possible (e.g., consider erythropoietin Erythropoietin Glycoprotein hormone, secreted chiefly by the kidney in the adult and the liver in the fetus, that acts on erythroid stem cells of the bone marrow to stimulate proliferation and differentiation. Erythrocytes: Histology injection for CKD CKD Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is kidney impairment that lasts for ≥ 3 months, implying that it is irreversible. Hypertension and diabetes are the most common causes; however, there are a multitude of other etiologies. In the early to moderate stages, CKD is usually asymptomatic and is primarily diagnosed by laboratory abnormalities. Chronic Kidney Disease).
  • Treat endocrinopathies, if present (e.g., levothyroxine Levothyroxine Thyroid Replacement Therapy for hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by a deficiency of thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause worldwide, but Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune thyroiditis) is the leading cause in non-iodine-deficient regions. Hypothyroidism).
  • Evaluate benefits and risks of long-term medications that may worsen anemia.

Comparison of Common Types of Anemia

Nonhemolytic anemias

  • Iron deficiency anemia Iron Deficiency Anemia Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia worldwide. This form of anemia is caused by insufficient iron due to a decreased supply, an increased loss, or an increased demand. Iron deficiency anemia is seen across all ages, sexes, and socioeconomic strata; however, children, women of childbearing age, and patients from lower socioeconomic strata are at higher risk. Iron Deficiency Anemia: most common type of anemia worldwide. Iron deficiency anemia Iron Deficiency Anemia Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia worldwide. This form of anemia is caused by insufficient iron due to a decreased supply, an increased loss, or an increased demand. Iron deficiency anemia is seen across all ages, sexes, and socioeconomic strata; however, children, women of childbearing age, and patients from lower socioeconomic strata are at higher risk. Iron Deficiency Anemia is due to a decreased supply of iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements, an increased loss of iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements (e.g., through unrecognized GI bleeding), or an increased demand for iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements (e.g., pregnancy Pregnancy The status during which female mammals carry their developing young (embryos or fetuses) in utero before birth, beginning from fertilization to birth. Pregnancy: Diagnosis, Physiology, and Care). Treatment is with supplementation and/or managing the underlying contributing disease.
  • Thalassemia Thalassemia Thalassemia is a hereditary cause of microcytic hypochromic anemia and results from a deficiency in either the α or β globin chains, resulting in hemoglobinopathy. The presentation of thalassemia depends on the number of defective chains present and can range from being asymptomatic to rendering the more severely affected patients to be transfusion dependent. Thalassemia: hereditary cause of microcytic, hypochromic anemia. Thalassemia Thalassemia Thalassemia is a hereditary cause of microcytic hypochromic anemia and results from a deficiency in either the α or β globin chains, resulting in hemoglobinopathy. The presentation of thalassemia depends on the number of defective chains present and can range from being asymptomatic to rendering the more severely affected patients to be transfusion dependent. Thalassemia is a deficiency in either the alpha (⍺) or beta (𝛽) globin chains resulting in both ineffective erythropoiesis Erythropoiesis The production of red blood cells (erythrocytes). In humans, erythrocytes are produced by the yolk sac in the first trimester; by the liver in the second trimester; by the bone marrow in the third trimester and after birth. In normal individuals, the erythrocyte count in the peripheral blood remains relatively constant implying a balance between the rate of erythrocyte production and rate of destruction. Erythrocytes: Histology and hemolysis. Clinical presentations range from asymptomatic carriers Carriers The Cell: Cell Membrane to severe anemia with shortened life expectancy Life expectancy Based on known statistical data, the number of years which any person of a given age may reasonably expected to live. Population Pyramids.
  • Megaloblastic anemia Megaloblastic anemia Megaloblastic anemia is a subset of macrocytic anemias that arises because of impaired nucleic acid synthesis in erythroid precursors. This impairment leads to ineffective RBC production and intramedullary hemolysis that is characterized by large cells with arrested nuclear maturation. The most common causes are vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies. Megaloblastic Anemia: subset of macrocytic anemia that arises because of impaired nucleic acid synthesis Synthesis Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in erythroid precursors: This impaired synthesis Synthesis Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) leads to ineffective RBC production and intramedullary hemolysis. The most common causes are vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies, which can be due to low dietary intake, underlying malabsorptive conditions, and medications. Clinical presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor includes anemia, GI symptoms, and neurologic manifestations.
  • Sickle cell anemia Sickle cell anemia A disease characterized by chronic hemolytic anemia, episodic painful crises, and pathologic involvement of many organs. It is the clinical expression of homozygosity for hemoglobin S. Sickle Cell Disease ( sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of genetic disorders in which an abnormal Hb molecule (HbS) transforms RBCs into sickle-shaped cells, resulting in chronic anemia, vasoocclusive episodes, pain, and organ damage. Sickle Cell Disease ( SCD SCD Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of genetic disorders in which an abnormal Hb molecule (HbS) transforms RBCs into sickle-shaped cells, resulting in chronic anemia, vasoocclusive episodes, pain, and organ damage. Sickle Cell Disease)): inherited autosomal recessive Autosomal recessive Autosomal inheritance, both dominant and recessive, refers to the transmission of genes from the 22 autosomal chromosomes. Autosomal recessive diseases are only expressed when 2 copies of the recessive allele are inherited. Autosomal Recessive and Autosomal Dominant Inheritance Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange due to a single point mutation Mutation Genetic mutations are errors in DNA that can cause protein misfolding and dysfunction. There are various types of mutations, including chromosomal, point, frameshift, and expansion mutations. Types of Mutations in the beta-globin gene Gene A category of nucleic acid sequences that function as units of heredity and which code for the basic instructions for the development, reproduction, and maintenance of organisms. Basic Terms of Genetics. The abnormal Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange polymerizes when it becomes deoxygenated, leading to sickle-shaped deformation of the RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology. These sickled RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology are hemolyzed easily and cause microvascular obstruction with associated organ ischemia Ischemia A hypoperfusion of the blood through an organ or tissue caused by a pathologic constriction or obstruction of its blood vessels, or an absence of blood circulation. Ischemic Cell Damage, severe pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways crises, and systemic complications. Sickle cells can usually be seen on a peripheral blood smear Blood smear Myeloperoxidase Deficiency.
  • Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemia Sideroblastic anemias are a heterogeneous group of bone marrow disorders characterized by abnormal iron accumulation in the mitochondria of erythroid precursors. The accumulated iron appears as granules in a ringlike distribution around the nucleus, giving rise to the characteristic morphological feature of a ring sideroblast. Sideroblastic Anemia: This heterogeneous group of bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow disorders is characterized by abnormal iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements accumulation in the mitochondria Mitochondria Semiautonomous, self-reproducing organelles that occur in the cytoplasm of all cells of most, but not all, eukaryotes. Each mitochondrion is surrounded by a double limiting membrane. The inner membrane is highly invaginated, and its projections are called cristae. Mitochondria are the sites of the reactions of oxidative phosphorylation, which result in the formation of ATP. They contain distinctive ribosomes, transfer RNAs; amino Acyl tRNA synthetases; and elongation and termination factors. Mitochondria depend upon genes within the nucleus of the cells in which they reside for many essential messenger RNAs. Mitochondria are believed to have arisen from aerobic bacteria that established a symbiotic relationship with primitive protoeukaryotes. The Cell: Organelles of erythroid precursors. The accumulated iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements appears as granules in a ring-like distribution around the nucleus Nucleus Within a eukaryotic cell, a membrane-limited body which contains chromosomes and one or more nucleoli (cell nucleolus). The nuclear membrane consists of a double unit-type membrane which is perforated by a number of pores; the outermost membrane is continuous with the endoplasmic reticulum. A cell may contain more than one nucleus. The Cell: Organelles ( ring sideroblasts Ring Sideroblasts Sideroblastic Anemia). Sideroblastic anemias may be due to inherited defects in heme synthesis Synthesis Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or can be acquired through alcoholism Alcoholism A primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic. Wernicke Encephalopathy and Korsakoff Syndrome, lead poisoning Lead poisoning Poisoning that results from chronic or acute ingestion, injection, inhalation, or skin absorption of lead or lead compounds. Metal Poisoning (Lead, Arsenic, Iron), medications, and vitamin deficiencies. Serum iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements levels are typically elevated. 

Hemolytic anemias

Hemolytic anemias are result of the destruction or premature Premature Childbirth before 37 weeks of pregnancy (259 days from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period, or 245 days after fertilization). Necrotizing Enterocolitis clearance of RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology. Specifically, they can be due to either damage caused by a narrowed vascular lumen ( intravascular hemolysis Intravascular hemolysis Hemolytic Anemia) or increased splenic clearance ( extravascular hemolysis Extravascular hemolysis Hemolytic Anemia). Splenic clearance can result from intrinsic abnormalities of the RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology (e.g., abnormal membranes, enzymes Enzymes Enzymes are complex protein biocatalysts that accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed by them. Due to the body’s constant metabolic needs, the absence of enzymes would make life unsustainable, as reactions would occur too slowly without these molecules. Basics of Enzymes, or Hb Hb The oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes. They are found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. The number of globin subunits in the hemoglobin quaternary structure differs between species. Structures range from monomeric to a variety of multimeric arrangements. Gas Exchange) or extrinsic antibody coating by the immune system Immune system The body’s defense mechanism against foreign organisms or substances and deviant native cells. It includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response and consists of a complex of interrelated cellular, molecular, and genetic components. Primary Lymphatic Organs (e.g., ABO incompatibility ABO incompatibility Hemolytic Disease of the Fetus and Newborn). 

Examples of hemolytic anemias include:

  • Hereditary spherocytosis Hereditary Spherocytosis Hereditary spherocytosis (HS) is the most common type of hereditary hemolytic anemia. The condition is caused by a cytoskeletal protein deficiency in the RBC membrane. This results in loss of membrane stability and deformability of the RBC, giving the cell its spherical shape (spherocyte). Hereditary Spherocytosis ( HS HS Hypertrophic scars and keloids are raised, red, and rigid (3 rs) scars that develop during cutaneous wound healing and are characterized by a local abnormal proliferation of fibroblasts with over-production of collagen. Over-expression of growth factors and decreased production of molecules that promote matrix breakdown appear to be involved in the etiology. Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars): caused by a cytoskeletal protein deficiency Cytoskeletal Protein Deficiency Hereditary Spherocytosis in the RBC membrane. This deficiency results in loss of membrane stability and deformability of the RBC, causing its spherical shape (spherocyte). These cells are predisposed to splenic degradation, leading to extravascular hemolysis Extravascular hemolysis Hemolytic Anemia. Physical findings include jaundice Jaundice Jaundice is the abnormal yellowing of the skin and/or sclera caused by the accumulation of bilirubin. Hyperbilirubinemia is caused by either an increase in bilirubin production or a decrease in the hepatic uptake, conjugation, or excretion of bilirubin. Jaundice and splenomegaly Splenomegaly Splenomegaly is pathologic enlargement of the spleen that is attributable to numerous causes, including infections, hemoglobinopathies, infiltrative processes, and outflow obstruction of the portal vein. Splenomegaly, while laboratory tests are consistent with hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia. The definitive treatment for HS HS Hypertrophic scars and keloids are raised, red, and rigid (3 rs) scars that develop during cutaneous wound healing and are characterized by a local abnormal proliferation of fibroblasts with over-production of collagen. Over-expression of growth factors and decreased production of molecules that promote matrix breakdown appear to be involved in the etiology. Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars is splenectomy Splenectomy Surgical procedure involving either partial or entire removal of the spleen. Rupture of the Spleen.
  • G6PD G6PD Pentose Phosphate Pathway deficiency: This X-linked recessive X-Linked Recessive Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy intravascular hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia is due to an inherited abnormality in the RBC enzyme G6PD G6PD Pentose Phosphate Pathway, which generates nicotinamide adenosine Adenosine A nucleoside that is composed of adenine and d-ribose. Adenosine or adenosine derivatives play many important biological roles in addition to being components of DNA and RNA. Adenosine itself is a neurotransmitter. Class 5 Antiarrhythmic Drugs dinucleotide phosphate Phosphate Inorganic salts of phosphoric acid. Electrolytes ( NADPH NADPH Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate. A coenzyme composed of ribosylnicotinamide 5′-phosphate (nmn) coupled by pyrophosphate linkage to the 5′-phosphate adenosine 2. Pentose Phosphate Pathway), protecting RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology from oxidative injury. Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship have episodic hemolysis Episodic Hemolysis Glucose-6-phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) Deficiency when cells encounter oxidative stressors.
  • Aplastic anemia Aplastic Anemia Aplastic anemia (AA) is a rare, life-threatening condition characterized by pancytopenia and hypocellularity of the bone marrow (in the absence of any abnormal cells) reflecting damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic anemia can be acquired or inherited, however, most cases of AA are acquired and caused by autoimmune damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic Anemia ( AA AA Amyloidosis): rare life-threatening condition characterized by pancytopenia Pancytopenia Deficiency of all three cell elements of the blood, erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets. Aplastic Anemia and hypocellularity of the bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow, in the absence of any abnormal cells, reflecting damage to the hematopoietic stem cells Hematopoietic stem cells Progenitor cells from which all blood cells derived. They are found primarily in the bone marrow and also in small numbers in the peripheral blood. Bone Marrow: Composition and Hematopoiesis (HSCs). Aplastic anemia Aplastic Anemia Aplastic anemia (AA) is a rare, life-threatening condition characterized by pancytopenia and hypocellularity of the bone marrow (in the absence of any abnormal cells) reflecting damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic anemia can be acquired or inherited, however, most cases of AA are acquired and caused by autoimmune damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic Anemia can be acquired or inherited. Multiple causes are known, including autoimmune damage to HSCs, medications, chemicals, whole-body radiation Radiation Emission or propagation of acoustic waves (sound), electromagnetic energy waves (such as light; radio waves; gamma rays; or x-rays), or a stream of subatomic particles (such as electrons; neutrons; protons; or alpha particles). Osteosarcoma, viral infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease, immune diseases, pregnancy Pregnancy The status during which female mammals carry their developing young (embryos or fetuses) in utero before birth, beginning from fertilization to birth. Pregnancy: Diagnosis, Physiology, and Care, Fanconi anemia Fanconi anemia Congenital disorder affecting all bone marrow elements, resulting in anemia; leukopenia; and thrombopenia, and associated with cardiac, renal, and limb malformations as well as dermal pigmentary changes. Spontaneous chromosome breakage is a feature of this disease along with predisposition to leukemia. There are at least 7 complementation groups in Fanconi anemia: fanca, fancb, fancc, fancd1, fancd2, fance, fancf, fancg, and fancl. Aplastic Anemia, and Down syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome, or trisomy 21, is the most common chromosomal aberration and the most frequent genetic cause of developmental delay. Both boys and girls are affected and have characteristic craniofacial and musculoskeletal features, as well as multiple medical anomalies involving the cardiac, gastrointestinal, ocular, and auditory systems. Down syndrome (Trisomy 21).
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia: rare type of hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia characterized by the production of autoantibodies Autoantibodies Antibodies that react with self-antigens (autoantigens) of the organism that produced them. Blotting Techniques directed against RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology, leading to the destruction of these cells in the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia is categorized as “warm” or “cold,” depending on the thermal reactivity of the autoantibodies Autoantibodies Antibodies that react with self-antigens (autoantigens) of the organism that produced them. Blotting Techniques. The etiology is diverse and includes infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease, autoimmune diseases Autoimmune diseases Disorders that are characterized by the production of antibodies that react with host tissues or immune effector cells that are autoreactive to endogenous peptides. Selective IgA Deficiency, lymphoproliferative disorders Lymphoproliferative disorders Disorders characterized by proliferation of lymphoid tissue, general or unspecified. Lymphocytosis, and drugs.
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria Hemoglobinuria The presence of free hemoglobin in the urine, indicating hemolysis of erythrocytes within the vascular system. After saturating the hemoglobin-binding proteins (haptoglobins), free hemoglobin begins to appear in the urine. Transfusion Reactions ( PNH PNH Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare but serious acquired hemolytic anemia with periodic exacerbations. This anemia is caused by nonmalignant clonal expansion of ≥ 1 hematopoietic stem cells that have acquired a somatic mutation of the phosphatidylinositol n-acetylglucosaminyltransferase subunit a (pig-a) gene. Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria): rare and serious acquired chronic hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia ( HA HA Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia) with periodic exacerbations. PNH PNH Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare but serious acquired hemolytic anemia with periodic exacerbations. This anemia is caused by nonmalignant clonal expansion of ≥ 1 hematopoietic stem cells that have acquired a somatic mutation of the phosphatidylinositol n-acetylglucosaminyltransferase subunit a (pig-a) gene. Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria often follows a diagnosis of bone marrow failure Bone marrow failure Inherited or acquired diseases characterized by insufficient and/or dysplastic blood cells. Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria/ aplastic anemia Aplastic Anemia Aplastic anemia (AA) is a rare, life-threatening condition characterized by pancytopenia and hypocellularity of the bone marrow (in the absence of any abnormal cells) reflecting damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic anemia can be acquired or inherited, however, most cases of AA are acquired and caused by autoimmune damage to hematopoietic stem cells. Aplastic Anemia, but it can also arise de novo. The underlying defect is a somatic mutation Somatic Mutation Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas in a multipotent hematopoietic stem cell of the X-linked X-linked Genetic diseases that are linked to gene mutations on the X chromosome in humans or the X chromosome in other species. Included here are animal models of human X-linked diseases. Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) PIGA gene Gene A category of nucleic acid sequences that function as units of heredity and which code for the basic instructions for the development, reproduction, and maintenance of organisms. Basic Terms of Genetics, followed by clonal expansion Clonal Expansion Seborrheic Keratosis of the mutated stem cells. These abnormal RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology undergo mostly intravascular hemolysis Intravascular hemolysis Hemolytic Anemia and may form a part of a unique clinical triad that also includes pancytopenia Pancytopenia Deficiency of all three cell elements of the blood, erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets. Aplastic Anemia and venous thrombosis Venous thrombosis The formation or presence of a blood clot (thrombus) within a vein. Budd-Chiari Syndrome.

References

  1. Auerbach, M. (2021). Causes and diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia in adults. UpToDate. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/causes-and-diagnosis-of-iron-deficiency-and-iron-deficiency-anemia-in-adults
  2. Means, R.T. (2021). Diagnostic approach to anemia in adults. UpToDate. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diagnostic-approach-to-anemia-in-adults
  3. Despotovic, J.M. (2021). Overview of hemolytic anemias in children. UpToDate. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-hemolytic-anemias-in-children
  4. Camaschella, C., Weiss, G. (2020). Anemia of chronic disease/anemia of inflammation. UpToDate. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/anemia-of-chronic-disease-anemia-of-inflammation
  5. Brodsky, R.A. (2021). Diagnosis of hemolytic anemia in adults. UpToDate. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diagnosis-of-hemolytic-anemia-in-adults
  6. Turner, J., Parsi, M. (2021). Anemia. StatPearls. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://www.statpearls.com/articlelibrary/viewarticle/17527/ 
  7. Aster, J.C. (2005). Red blood cell and bleeding disorders. In Kumar, V., Abbas, A.K., Fausto, N. (Eds). Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, 7th ed., pp. 622–649.

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