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Howell-Jolly bodies

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Title: Howell-Jolly bodies  
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Subject: Hereditary spherocytosis, Inclusion bodies, Micronucleus
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Howell-Jolly bodies

Howell–Jolly bodies are histopathological findings of basophilic nuclear remnants (clusters of DNA) in circulating erythrocytes. During maturation in the bone marrow erythrocytes normally expel their nuclei, but in some cases a small portion of DNA remains. Its presence usually signifies a damaged spleen.

It is named for William Henry Howell and Justin Marie Jolly.[1][2][3]


This DNA appears as a basophilic (purple) spot on the otherwise eosinophilic (pink) erythrocyte on a standard H&E stained blood smear. These inclusions are normally pitted out by the spleen during erythrocyte circulation, but will persist in individuals with functional hyposplenia or asplenia.


Howell-Jolly bodies are seen with markedly decreased splenic function. Common causes include asplenia splenectomy, trauma to the spleen, and autosplenectomy caused by sickle cell anemia. Ten percent of patients with Celiac disease also present with splenic atrophy with subsequent Howell–Jolly bodies. Other causes are radiation therapy involving the spleen, such as that used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma. Howell–Jolly bodies are also seen in: severe hemolytic anemia, megaloblastic anemia, hereditary spherocytosis, and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).


External links

  • Digital Pathology, Brown University: Howell-Jolly Bodies
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