January 17 2011 (Monday) - Howell-Jolly Bodies



Named for William Henry Howell and Justin Marie Jolly, Howell-Jolly bodies are basophilic nuclear remnants in circulating erythrocytes. They appear as a black spot on the otherwise eosinophilic (pink) erythrocyte on a standard stained blood smear. These inclusions are normally pitted out by the spleen during erythrocyte circulation, but will persist in individuals with functional hyposplenia or asplenia.

Common causes of asplenia are splenectomy following trauma to the spleen, and autosplenectomy caused by sickle cell anemia or related conditions.
Up to ten percent of patients with coeliac diseases also present with splenic atrophy with subsequent Howell-Jolly bodies. Other causes are radiation therapies which damage the spleen.
Howell-Jolly bodies are also seen in severe hemolytic anemias, megaloblastic anemia, hereditary spherocytosis (occassionally), and myelodysplastic syndromes.

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