Two patients exhibiting a highly unusual preleukemic syndrome with marked reticulocytosis, hypochromia, and microcytosis are reported. This red cell phenotype has been investigated by means of HbF, HbA2, and i-antigen activity dosages, immunofluorescence labeling of F cells, reticulocyte survival, globin chain synthesis, and electron microscopy study. The marked reticulocytosis is explained by a delayed disappearance of the reticulum. Serum iron is normal, and a thalassemic syndrome is excluded because of a balanced alpha/non-alpha globin chain synthesis. Electron microscopy studies are consistent with a defect in iron uptake by erythroid cells. All the hematologic data and investigations are similar to those observed for the Belgrade laboratory rat. It is hypothesized that the low expression of HbF and i- Ag associated with microcytosis are related to a prolongation of erythroid maturation as reflected by abnormal reticulocyte survival.

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