Research Article

Reticulocytopenia and "absence" of red cell autoantibodies in immune haemolytic anaemia.

Br Med J 1977; 2 doi: (Published 03 December 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;2:1444
  1. U M Hegde,
  2. E C Gordon-Smith,
  3. S M Worlledge


    A raised reticulocyte count is common in patients with immune or autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, and the result of the direct antiglobulin test (DAGT) is usually positive because of IgG or IgG and complement components on the red cells. We report on three patients who had low reticulocyte counts when they were most anaemic, and in whom no red cell autoantibodies could be detected by the DAGT. We postulate that reticulocytes may be selectively destroyed if antibodies are directed against antigenic sites on these young red cells, thus giving rise to a population of cells whose antigenic sites are poorly expressed. This theory might explain the low reticulocyte counts and the "absence" of antibodies (as tested by the DAGT) in such patients. Radioisotopic studies with 51Cr and 59Fe may provide useful information on the rate and sites of red cell destruction.