Reticulocytes are immature red blood cells, typically composing about 1% of the red blood cells in the human body. In the process of erythropoiesis (red blood cell formation), reticulocytes develop and mature in the bone marrow and then circulate for about a day in the blood stream before developing into mature red blood cells. Like mature red blood cells, in mammals reticulocytes do not have a cell nucleus. They are called reticulocytes because of a reticular (mesh-like) network of ribosomal RNA that becomes visible under a microscope with certain stains such as new methylene blue.
To accurately measure reticulocyte counts, automated counters use a combination of laser excitation, detectors and a fluorescent dye that marks RNA and DNA (such as titan yellow or polymethine). Reticulocytes can be distinguished from other circulating cells because they emit a signal that is neither strong (like lymphocytes) nor weak (like red blood cells).
- Sample of whole blood
- We perform the test daily