Advances in laboratory diagnosis of hereditary spherocytosis

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Abstract

Among the red cell membrane disorders, hereditary spherocytosis (HS) is one of the most common causes of inherited hemolytic anemia. HS results from the deficiency or dysfunction of red blood cell membrane proteins, such as α spectrin, β spectrin, ankyrin, anion channel protein (Band-3 protein), protein 4.1 and protein 4.2. Conventionally, HS diagnosis is established through a series of tests, which include spherocytes identification in peripheral smear, reticulocyte count, osmotic fragility, etc. Currently, different hematological analyzers provide erythrocyte indicators that estimate the presence of spherocytes and correlate that with HS, which can be useful for disease screening. The most traditional method is the osmotic fragility (OF) test, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming to perform and presents low sensitivity and specificity values. Thus, new methods have been developed for HS diagnosis, such as flow cytometry. Current guidelines recommend the use of flow cytometry as a screening test for HS diagnosis using the eosin-5′-maleimide (EMA) binding test. Thus, HS diagnosis is the result of a collaboration between clinicians and laboratories, who should take into account the family history and the exclusion of other causes of secondary spherocytosis.

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