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Other namesMacrocytes, megalocytes

Macrocytosis is the enlargement of red blood cells with near-constant hemoglobin concentration, and is defined by a mean corpuscular volume (MCV) of greater than 100 femtolitres (the precise criterion varies between laboratories). The enlarged erythrocytes are called macrocytes or megalocytes (both words have roots meaning "big cell"). As a symptom its cause may be relatively benign and need no treatment or it may indicate a serious underlying illness.


In humans, most commonly (especially when the increase in size is mild, and just above normal range) the cause is bone marrow dysplasia secondary to alcohol use disorder.

Poor absorption of vitamin B12 in the digestive tract can also cause macrocytosis.

Gastrointestinal diseases that may cause macrocytosis include celiac disease (severe sensitivity to gluten from wheat and other grains that causes intestinal damage) and Crohn's disease (inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract).

Other causes may include:


No complications arise from macrocytosis itself and a prognosis will be determined from its cause.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Greenberg, P. L., et al. "Myelodysplastic syndromes: clinical practice guidelines in oncology." Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network 11.7 (2013): 838-874.

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