How does alcohol abuse lead 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

A history of alcohol abuse may be an important clue to the cause of the increased mean cell volume (MCV); long-term use of alcohol may have a direct toxic effect on the bone marrow, causing macrocytosis. [18] A thorough examination of the patient’s medication regimen is also crucial in the workup of macrocytosis; a variety of medications may have an effect on the MCV. Recent acute blood loss may signal that reticulocytosis is causing the MCV increase.


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