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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

Editor-in-Chief: Plebani, Mario

Editorial Board Member: Gillery, Philippe / Kazmierczak, Steven / Lackner, Karl J. / Lippi, Giuseppe / Melichar, Bohuslav / Schlattmann, Peter / Whitfield, John B.

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Measurement of reticulocyte and red blood cell indices in patients with iron deficiency anemia and β-thalassemia minor

José F. A. Noronha1 / Helena Z. W. Grotto2



Corresponding author: Helena Z. W. Grotto, Department of Clinical Pathology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas – UNICAMP, PO 6111, 13084-971 – Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil Phone: +55-19-3788-7064, Fax: +55-19-3788-9434,

Citation Information: Clinical Chemical Laboratory Medicine. Volume 43, Issue 2, Pages 195–197, ISSN (Online) 1437-4331, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: 10.1515/CCLM.2005.033, April 2005

Publication History

August 9, 2004
December 7, 2004


New parameters correlated with the hemoglobin content in reticulocytes (RET-Y) and in red blood cells (RBC-Y) have been suggested as helpful in diagnosing iron deficiency anemia. We have studied RET-Y and RBC-Y indices in two groups of patients with microcytosis to verify if these parameters could be used to differentiate iron deficiency anemia from β-thalassemia minor. Blood samples from 33 iron-deficient patients, 25 β-thalassemic minor patients and 50 normal individuals were analyzed on a Sysmex XE-2100 instrument. A significant difference was observed in reticulocyte counting and immature reticulocyte fraction between iron deficiency anemia and β-thalassemia minor groups, but not in RBC-X and RET-Y parameters. Reticulocyte counting was higher in β-thalassemia minor and the immature reticulocyte fraction was higher in severe iron deficiency anemia. The ratio RET-Y/mean cell volume was tested and was significantly different when β-thalassemia minor was compared with mild and severe iron deficiency anemia, and showed better performance than the Mentzer ratio and the Green and King function. A great overlap of RET-Y and RBC-Y individual values was observed in both groups of microcytic anemias; we conclude that these new indices may be used with caution as indicative of iron deficiency, mainly in populations where β-thalassemia minor is frequent.

Keywords: automated cell counting; β-thalassemia minor; iron deficiency anemia; microcytosis; red blood cell; reticulocyte

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