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A term describing specific shape forms of erythrocytes that deviate from standard forms (see also: discocytes). In contrast to normal red blood cells, which show a clear central area, leptocytes are elongated or oval in shape and are pale-staining with hemoglobin, which is confined to a thin flat layer near the cell membrane, leaving a colorless clear center. Such cells are found in the blood of patients with thalassemias but also in other anemias (Crosby, 1952; Hanlon, 1956; Weiser and O'Grady, 1983; Morle et al, 1987). The term his still in use and has been used predominantly in early descriptions of thalassemias (called previously Mediterranean anemia, hereditary leptocytosis, Cooley's anemia).

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