A child with congenital hemolytic anemia, extreme microcytosis and bizarre red cell morphology has been studied. Splenectomy at the age of 21 mo greatly improved the hemolytic anemia, although red cell morphology was unchanged. Aniso- and poikilocytosis were marked on a stained smear, and there were many small hyperchromatic cells of irregular shape. The MCV of 25 cu mu was very low and the MCHC was normal. Osmotic fragility of fresh blood was increased, and postsplenectomy blood showed a fraction of extremely fragile cells. Concentration and fluxes of Na+ and K+ were normal, except K+ efflux, which was stimulated by external Ca2+. Inward Ca2+ movement into the patient's red cells was elevated three- to fourfold above red cells of the same mean age. Red cell Ca2+ concentration was raised 2.5 times normal and most of the Ca2+ was localized in the stroma. Red cell lipid, sialic acid, and ouabain-binding sites, all per milliliter of cells, were increased by 16%-23%, and, since these substances estimate the amount of membrane, it was likely that Ca2+ content per unit of membrane area was at least twice normal. Deformability of the cells, as judged by their filterability was markedly impaired. It was concluded that the red cell membrane was defective, and an increased membrane Ca2+ content was associated with reduced deformability, hemolysis, and distorted red cell morphology in this syndrome.

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