Hereditary spherocytosis, elliptocytosis, and other red cell membrane disorders

Blood Rev. 2013 Jul;27(4):167-78. doi: 10.1016/j.blre.2013.04.003. Epub 2013 May 9.


Hereditary spherocytosis and elliptocytosis are the two most common inherited red cell membrane disorders resulting from mutations in genes encoding various red cell membrane and skeletal proteins. Red cell membrane, a composite structure composed of lipid bilayer linked to spectrin-based membrane skeleton is responsible for the unique features of flexibility and mechanical stability of the cell. Defects in various proteins involved in linking the lipid bilayer to membrane skeleton result in loss in membrane cohesion leading to surface area loss and hereditary spherocytosis while defects in proteins involved in lateral interactions of the spectrin-based skeleton lead to decreased mechanical stability, membrane fragmentation and hereditary elliptocytosis. The disease severity is primarily dependent on the extent of membrane surface area loss. Both these diseases can be readily diagnosed by various laboratory approaches that include red blood cell cytology, flow cytometry, ektacytometry, electrophoresis of the red cell membrane proteins, and mutational analysis of gene encoding red cell membrane proteins.

Keywords: Elliptocytosis; Hemolysis; Hereditary spherocytosis; Pyropoikilocytosis; Red cell membrane; Stomatocytosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ankyrins / blood
  • Ankyrins / deficiency*
  • Ankyrins / genetics
  • Elliptocytosis, Hereditary / blood*
  • Elliptocytosis, Hereditary / diagnosis
  • Elliptocytosis, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Erythrocytes / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Spherocytosis, Hereditary / blood*
  • Spherocytosis, Hereditary / diagnosis
  • Spherocytosis, Hereditary / genetics*


  • Ankyrins

Supplementary concepts

  • Spherocytosis, Type 1