What is the role of alcoholism to the development of macrocytosis?

Updated: Dec 16, 2018
  • Author: Vincent E Herrin, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Macrocytosis, sometimes without associated anemia, is often evident in persons with chronic alcoholism. [8, 9] Although the macrocytosis of alcoholism may be secondary to poor nutrition with a resulting folate or vitamin B-12 deficiency, it is more often due to direct toxicity of the alcohol on the marrow. The macrocytosis of alcoholism usually reverses only after months of abstinence from alcohol.

The macrocytosis associated with COPD is attributed to excess cell water that is secondary to carbon dioxide retention.

A murine study found that disruption of the Gardos channel (the erythrocyte Ca2+ -activated K+ channel [KCa3.1]) caused subtle erythrocyte macrocytosis and led to mild but progressive splenomegaly.


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