Morphologic changes of erythropoietic cells in the bone marrow of 19 lead intoxicated patients are reported. In addition to clinical manifestations the toxic action of lead was verified by the laboratory findings: high lead blood values, increased coproporphyrinuria and characteristic findings in peripheral blood.
Qualitative changes of erythroblasts were constantly present in all smears examined. Abnormalities most frequently observed were: (a) basophilic stippling, (b) polyploidy, (c) nuclear alterations ("karyorrhexis"), and (d) aberrant chromosomes. The incideces of some of these changes have been given.
The mechanism by which these changes might be brought about is discussed; the role of interruption of cytokinesis and karyokinesis is emphasized.