Microangiopathic hemolytic anemia
|Microangiopathic hemolytic anemia|
|Classification and external resources|
In medicine (hematology) microangiopathic hemolytic anemia (MAHA) is a microangiopathic subgroup of hemolytic anemia (loss of red blood cells through destruction) caused by factors in the small blood vessels. It is identified by the finding of anemia and schistocytes on microscopy of the blood film.
In diseases such as hemolytic uremic syndrome, disseminated intravascular coagulation, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, and malignant hypertension, the endothelial layer of small vessels is damaged with resulting fibrin deposition and platelet aggregation. As red blood cells travel through these damaged vessels, they are fragmented resulting in intravascular hemolysis. The resulting schistocytes (red cell fragments) are also increasingly targeted for destruction by the reticuloendothelial system in the spleen, due to their narrow passage through obstructed vessel lumina. It is seen in systemic lupus erythematosus, where immune complexes aggregate with platelets, forming intravascular thrombi. Microangiopathic hemolytic anemia is also seen in cancer. 
In all causes, the mechanism of MAHA is the formation of a fibrin mesh due to increased activation of the system of coagulation. The red blood cells are physically cut by these protein networks. The resulting fragments are the schistocytes observed in light microscopy.
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