What does the term "nocturnal" refer to in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)?

Updated: May 20, 2021
  • Author: Emmanuel C Besa, MD; Chief Editor: Sara J Grethlein, MD, FACP  more...
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Answer

The term "nocturnal" refers to the belief that hemolysis is triggered by acidosis during sleep and activates complement to hemolyze an unprotected and abnormal RBC membrane. However, this supposition was later disproved. Hemolysis has been shown to occur throughout the day and is not actually paroxysmal, but the concentration of urine overnight produces the dramatic change in color.


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