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Abstract

Under normal conditions, reticulocytes are the youngest erythrocytes released from the bone marrow into circulating blood. They mature for 1–3 days within the bone marrow and circulate for 1–2 days before becoming mature erythrocytes. Measurement of cellular hemoglobin concentration has long been reported by automated hematology analyzers as one of the red blood cell indices. The reticulocyte hemoglobin content (CHr or Ret-He) provides an indirect measure of the functional iron available for new red blood cell production over the previous 3–4 days. Measurement of reticulocyte hemoglobin content in peripheral blood samples is useful for diagnosis of iron deficiency in adults (Mast et al., Blood 2002;99:1489–1491) and children (Brugnara et al., JAMA 1999;281:2225–2230; Ullrich et al., JAMA 2005;294:924–930; Bakr and Sarette, Eur J Pediatr 2006;165:442–445). It provides an early measure of the response to iron therapy increasing within 2–4 days of the initiation of intravenous iron therapy (Brugnara et al., Blood 1994;83:3100–3101). Sequential measurements of reticulocyte hemoglobin content in patients with iron deficiency anemia provide a rapid means for assessing the erythropoietic response to iron replacement therapy (Brugnara et al., Blood 1994;83:3100–3101). It is also an early indicator or iron-restricted erythropoiesis in patients receiving erythropoietin therapy (Fishbane et al., Kidney Int 1997;52:217–222; Fishbane et al., Kidney Int 2001;60:2406–2411; Mittman et al., Am J Kidney Dis 1997;30:912–922; Tsuchiya et al., Clin Nephrol 2003;59:115–123; Chuang et al., Nephrol Dial Transplant 2003;18:370–377). Thus, reticulocyte hemoglobin content is a recent addition to an expanding list of biomarkers that can be used to differentiate iron deficiency from other causes of anemia. Am. J. Hematol., 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.