Red cells which contain ribosomes presumably have the potential to form stippled cells. The ribosomes in cells from animals with phenylhydrazine and postphlebotomy anemia may form stippling when blood films are dried slowly or when stained supravitally with dilute concentrations of New Methylene Blue dye. The ribosomes of cells from animals with lead intoxication have a greater propensity to form aggregates and therefore to result in stippling.
Since the formation of stippling in cells is dependent on the dessication of cells, they are not seen in plasma suspended cells nor in cells prepared in routine fashion for electron microscopy. The basophilic stippled material produced in certain blood cells by the action of supravital dye consists exclusively of ribosomes. The association of nonheme iron with basophilic stippling is usually the consequence of the presence of two separate morphologic structures within the cells which may not be resolved, one from the other, in light or phase microscopy, but may be distinguished by the use of electron microscopy.
The "spontaneous" occurrence of the basophilic stippling may be interpreted as evidence of ribosomal abnormality, but the multiplicity of cellular injuries induced by lead, other chemicals, drugs or disease processes may indicate that ribosomal aggregation results from alteration of nonribosomal organelles or other cellular constituents.