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Macrocytic anemias.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Over the last century, the diseases associated with macrocytic anemia have been changing with more patients currently having hematological diseases including malignancies and myelodysplastic syndrome. The intracellular mechanisms underlying the development of anemia with macrocytosis can help in understanding normal erythropoiesis. Adaptations to these diseases involving erythroid progenitor and precursor cells lead to production of fewer but larger red blood cells, and understanding these mechanisms can provide information for possible treatments.

RECENT FINDINGS: Both inherited and acquired bone marrow diseases involving primarily impaired or delayed erythroid cell division or secondary adaptions to basic erythroid cellular deficits that results in prolonged cell division frequently present with macrocytic anemia.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS: In marrow failure diseases, large accumulations of iron and heme in early stages of erythroid differentiation make cells in those stages especially susceptible to death, but the erythroid cells that can survive the early stages of terminal differentiation yield fewer but larger erythrocytes that are recognized clinically as macrocytic anemia. Other disorders that limit deoxynucleosides required for DNA synthesis affect a broader range of erythropoietic cells, but they also lead to macrocytic anemia. The source of macrocytosis in other diseases remains uncertain.

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