Background: Apheresis donors are routinely evaluated with a complete blood count (CBC). Low red blood cell mean corpuscular volume (MCV) values (<80 fL) in the presence of an acceptable hemoglobin (Hb; ≥12.5 g/dL) could be due to iron deficiency or hemoglobinopathy. The etiology of a low MCV in a healthy apheresis donor population was assessed. Methods: Predonation samples for CBC were obtained from 1162 consecutive apheresis donors. Donors with a MCV of less than 80 fL were evaluated by CBC, iron studies (ferritin, serum iron, transferrin, percentage of transferrin saturation), and hemoglobin (Hb) electrophoresis. Iron deficiency was defined as a ferritin value below the reference range. Beta chain Hb variants were determined by Hb electrophoresis. Alpha thalassemia trait was presumed if the red blood cell (RBC) count was elevated, no variant Hbs were detected, and the iron studies were within normal ranges. Results: In a 19-month period, 33 of 1162 apheresis donors had low MCV values. Iron deficiency was present in 64%; 49% had isolated iron deficiency and 15% had iron deficiency plus hemoglobinopathy. Hemoglobinopathy without concomitant iron deficiency was found in the remaining 36%. CONCLUSION: Iron deficiency is present in the majority of apheresis donors with repeatedly low MCV values and Hb levels of 12.5 g/dL or more. Hemoglobinopathy is also commonly present but may not be easily recognized in the setting of iron deficiency. The MCV is a useful screening tool to detect iron deficiency and hemoglobinopathy. Low MCV values should be investigated to determine if iron replacement therapy is indicated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy