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Heinz bodies

Discussion in 'Step I' started by DrPak, Aug 9, 2006.

  1. DrPak

    DrPak Senior Member
    5+ Year Member

    Nov 19, 2005
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    What are Heinz bodies exactly? why do they form? I know they form in G6PD patients as well as patients who've had a splenectomy. I'm trying to understand the common denominator between these two conditions. What's common to both these conditions causing Heinz bodies to appear?
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  3. DoctorFunk

    DoctorFunk Get down with the boogie
    7+ Year Member

    May 17, 2004
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    Resident [Any Field]
    Heinz bodies, wikified!

    Seems to me from reading that short blurb that Heinz bodies are inclusions that form due to oxidative damage of the hemoglobin molecules in RBCs. G6PD deficiency would lead to increased Heinz bodies because G6PD is part of the pentose phosphate pathway and NADPH is needed to maintain glutathione levels in the RBC, which protects it against oxidative stress.

    Splenectomy likely leads to increased Heinz bodies because the spleen contains macrophages that are able to eliminate Heinz body inclusions in RBCs. So one might imagine that without the spleen around to eliminate any RBC inclusions that crop up, they will add up over time.

    If anyone else has a better understanding of the whole Heinz bodies thing, please feel free to correct anything here. I'm certainly no expert.
  4. trudub

    trudub Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Oct 23, 2003
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    I think that pretty much nailed it! For USMLE purposes, Heinz bodies is pretty much equal to G6PD Deficiency. The explanation is dead on though.

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