AIMS--To determine the maturity of reticulocytes in patients with anaemia as a result of various haematological disorders including those with qualitative abnormalities such as ineffective erythropoiesis or dyserythropoiesis. METHODS--The number of mature reticulocytes was measured with flow cytometry in venous blood samples from 122 patients with haematological disorders and 100 healthy controls. Reticulocytes were classified into three categories by the fluorescence intensity of auramin O staining: low fluorescence ratio (LFR), medium fluorescence ratio (MFR), and high fluorescence ratio (HFR). Immature reticulocytes were determined as the aggregate of MFR and HFR (%). RESULTS--The mean (2SD) number of immature reticulocytes in 100 normal subjects was 9.0 (7.0)%. Significantly high mean values of immature reticulocytes with a normal or reduced reticulocyte count were shown in 90 patients with dyserythropoietic or ineffective erythropoietic conditions, such as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) (n = 37), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) (n = 35), aplastic anaemia (AA) (n = 8), or megaloblastic anaemia (MA), (n = 6). Reticulocyte ratios returned to normal after successful treatment of patients with AML (n = 10) and MA (n = 3). However, high percentages of immature reticulocytes with increased reticulocyte counts were consistently observed in patients with enhanced erythropoiesis such as those with acquired autoimmune haemolytic anaemias (AIHA) (n = 4) or acute blood loss (ABL) (n = 4). Reticulocyte maturity was within the normal range in patients with reduced erythropoiesis such as occurs in chronic renal failure (CRF) (n = 11), or in iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) (n = 13). CONCLUSIONS--The evaluation of reticulocyte maturity with total reticulocyte count seems to be clinically useful for estimating the qualitative impairment of erythropoiesis, and so could help differentiate haematological disorders.
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