48 Hereditary Spherocytosis

Michelle To and Valentin Villatoro

Images of hereditary spherocytosis peripheral blood smears demonstrating marked spherocytosis and polychromasia. From MLS Collection, University of Alberta.

Image 1: 100x oil immersion. https://doi.org/10.7939/R34B2XK9F

Image 2: 50 x oil immersion. https://doi.org/10.7939/R3HM53096



The hereditary condition results in the formation of spherocytes with a decreased life span, decreased deformability, and a reduced surface-to-volume ratio causing increased osmotic fragility.1



Genetic mutations in the vertical protein linkages between the membrane and cytoskeleton: α-spectrin, β-spectrin, band 3, ankyrin, and  protein 4.2.1-4 Results in loss of unsupported membrane overtime, and spherocyte formation.



Autosomal dominant or recessive depending on which mutations are inherited.


Clinical Features:1,3,4





Iron Overload

Extramedullary erythropoiesis


Laboratory Results:1-3


Hb: Decreased

MCV: Decreased to Normal

MCH: Normal to Increased

MCHC: Increased

(>360 g/L)

RETIC: Increased

RDW: Increased


Spherocytes (Variable amounts)


Increased inclusions (HJ bodies, pappenheimer bodies)

+/- NRBCs


M:E Ratio: Decreased

Erythroid Hyperplasia

Other Tests:

Osmotic Fragility: Increased

Eosin -5’-maleimide Binding Test: Decreased fluorescence

DAT: Negative (AIHA with spherocytes are DAT positive)


Markers of EVH:

Bilirubin: Increased

LD: Increased

Urobilinogen: Increased


1. Gallagher PG. Abnormalities of the erythrocyte membrane. Pediatr Clin North Am [Internet]. 2013 Dec 15 [cited 2018 Jun 26];60(6):1349–62. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155395/

2. Keohane EM. Intrinsic defects leading to increased erythrocyte destruction. In: Rodak’s hematology clinical applications and principles. 5th ed. St. Louis, Missouri: Saunders; 2015. p. 367–93.

3. Andolfo I, Russo R, Gambale A, Iolascon A. New insights on hereditary erythrocyte membrane defects. Haematologica [Internet]. 2016 Nov 22 [cited 2018 Jun 26];101(11):1284–94. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394881/

4. Da Costa L, Galimand J, Fenneteau O, Mohandas N. Hereditary spherocytosis, elliptocytosis, and other red cell membrane disorders. Blood Rev [Internet]. 2013[cited 2018 Jul 24];27(4):167–78. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0268960X13000192


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Hereditary Spherocytosis Copyright © 2019 by Michelle To and Valentin Villatoro is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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