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Abstract

Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) blood cells lack glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored membrane proteins such as decay-accelerating factor (DAF) and CD59. This lack is of diagnostic value in PNH. Because reticulocytes in PNH are not yet well characterized, we analyzed reticulocytes obtained from 12 patients with PNH and from 5 healthy volunteers by two-color flow cytometry with a membrane-permeable fluorescent dye, thiazole orange, to identify reticulocytes and monoclonal antibodies to DAF and CD59. Healthy individuals had no affected cells. In all patients, the population of affected reticulocytes negative for DAF and CD59 was markedly higher than the population of affected erythrocytes. Moreover, the population of affected erythrocytes became obviously low in patients who received transfusions and suffered from hemolytic precipitation, whereas the population of affected reticulocytes was unchanged. The persistently high population of affected reticulocytes, despite cytolytic exclusion and an inherently short lifetime, might possibly be explained by relative reticulocytosis caused by an anemia-induced feedback stimulation of erythropoiesis in PNH. Thus, affected reticulocytes could be a reliable marker for the diagnosis of PNH and for the evaluation of erythropoiesis by PNH stem cell.