Microcytes

Microcytes 1 (Canine 1 - Iron Deficiency) ARROWS
Numerous microcytes (examples marked with arrows). Normal red blood cell (arrowhead) for comparison. Polychromatophil also visible at top left (not marked). Canine (iron deficiency).

Morphology: red blood cells that are smaller than normal. May be hypochromic or normochromic. Central pallor is preserved (in dogs).

Look alike: spherocytes (may be difficult to distinguish spherocytes from microcytes in cats, horses, and cattle due to lack of central pallor in normal red blood cells).

Commonly seen with: other features of iron deficiency anemia (hypochromasia).

Clinical relevance: often associated with iron deficiency and portosystemic shunts. May be normal in young animals (puppies and kittens 4-8 weeks of age, calves and foals up to 1 year of age) due to physiologic iron deficiency. May also be normal in Japanese dog breeds (Akita, Shiba Inu). Microcytosis usually corresponds to decreased mean cell volume (MCV) on CBC.

Microcytes 2 (Canine 2 - Iron Deficiency) ARROWS
Microcytes (arrows). Normal red blood cell (arrowhead) for comparison. Neutrophils and platelets also visible (not marked). Canine (iron deficiency).
Microcytes 4 (Canine 4 - Iron Deficiency)
Marked anisocytosis with microcytes, normal red blood cells, and polychromatophils. Neutrophils also visible. Canine (iron deficiency anemia).

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