Ten patients with preleukemia were studied by the erythroid cell clonal culture technique. In nine of these patients, erythroid colonies derived from peripheral blood BFU-E were not observed, while the other patient had markedly decreased peripheral blood BFU-E-derived erythroid colonies in vitro. In three patients, marrow cells were also cultured and no BFU-E-derived erythroid colonies were detected. These studies indicate that immature erythroid progenitor cells, BFU-E, in patients with preleukemia are either markedly decreased in number or grossly defective in their proliferative or differentiative capacities.

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