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Reticulocyte haemoglobin equivalent (RET-He) as an early marker of responsiveness to oral iron supplementation


Aim We investigated the potential of reticulocyte haemoglobin equivalent (RET-He) as an early marker of responsiveness to iron supplementation.

Methods Data were obtained from a randomised controlled trial of daily iron supplementation in 356 Cambodian women (18–45 y) who received 60 mg elemental iron for 12 weeks. A fasted venous blood specimen was collected at baseline, 1-week and 12-week timepoints. Whole blood haemoglobin (g/L) and RET-He (pg) were measured using a Sysmex haematology analyser. RET-He measures were evaluated for their predictive ability on haemoglobin response to iron supplementation (defined as ≥10 g/L at 12 weeks). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to assess discrimination performance, and the area under the ROC curve (AUCROC) served as a measure of the ability of each predictor to discriminate between women likely or unlikely to elicit a haemoglobin response.

Results Predictive ability (AUCROC (95% CI)) of baseline, 1-week, and change from baseline to 1-week RET-He on haemoglobin response was 0.70 (0.63 to 0.76), 0.48 (0.41 to 0.56) and 0.81 (0.75 to 0.87), respectively. Based on the Youden index, an absolute increase in RET-He of ~1.1 pg or a percentage increase of ~4.4% over 1 week were optimal thresholds to predict responsiveness to iron supplementation.

Conclusion Single timepoint RET-He measures have poor predictive ability; however, change in RET-He after 1 week was a strong predictor of haemoglobin response among Cambodian women receiving 60 mg elemental iron and can be measured easily and quickly after only 1 week of iron therapy.

  • Hematology
  • IRON
  • Reticulocyte Count
  • Nutritional Sciences

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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