Hemocytometric parameters like red blood cell (RBC) count, mean red blood cell volume (MCV), reticulocyte count, red blood cell distribution width (RDW-SD) and zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) are frequently established for discrimination between iron-deficiency anemia and thalassemia in subjects with microcytic erythropoiesis. However, no single marker or combination of tests is optimal for discrimination between iron-deficiency anemia and thalassemia. This is the reason why many algorithms have been introduced. However, application of conventional algorithms, only resulted in appropriate classification of 30-40% of subjects. In this mini-review the efficacy of innovative hematological parameters for detection of alterations in RBCs has been considered. It refers to parameters concerning hemoglobinization of RBCs and reticulocytes and the percentages microcytic and hypochromic RBCs, for discrimination between subjects with iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) or thalassemia as well as a combination of both. A new discriminating tool including the above mentioned parameters was developed, based on two precondition steps and discriminating algorithms. The percentage microcytic RBCs is considered in the first pre-condition step. MCV, RDW-SD and RBC count are applied in the second precondition step. Subsequently, new algorithms, including conventional as well as innovative hematological parameters, were assessed for subgroups with microcytic erythropoiesis. The new algorithms for IDA discrimination yielded results for sensitivity of 79%, specificity of 97%, positive and negative predictive values of 74% and 98% respectively. The algorithms for beta-thalassemia discrimination revealed similar results (74%, 98%, 75% and 99% respectively). We advocate that innovative algorithms, including parameters reflecting hemoglobinization of RBCs and reticulocytes, are integrated in an easily accessible software program linked to the hematology equipment to improve the discrimination between IDA and thalassemia.
Iron deficiency; thalassemia; anemia; erythropoiesis; reticulocyte hemoglobin