Very young reticulocytes are released into the circulation in response to the stress of anemia. These stress reticulocytes have shortened in vivo survival when transfused into normal recipients, and are generally considered to be abnormal because they have skipped a terminal cell division. We reevaluated one aspect of their abnormality: that of in vivo survival. Using methodology that accounted for all cells transfused, in vivo survival of both normal and stress reticulocytes was investigated in both normal and anemic recipients. The experiments demonstrate that: (1) survival of reticulocytes is normal only when normal reticulocytes are injected into nonanemic animals; (2) intrinsic properties of stress reticulocytes lead to their immediate removal from the circulation by normal recipients to a significantly greater extent than by anemic recipients; and (3) both stress and normal reticulocytes are removed at an accelerated rate over time by anemic recipients. Taken together, the data indicate that in the course of becoming anemic, an adaptation occurs that allows cells produced during anemia to circulate considerably longer in anemic animals than they could in normal nonanemic animals. Other studies disclosed that increased reticulocyte survival in anemic animals could not be attributed to reticuloendothelial overload, but is induced by adaptation of the spleen, decreasing its removal of stress reticulocytes.

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