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Anemia can also result from a reduced amount of functional hemoglobin per erythrocyte.
Under normal conditions, the human erythrocyte has a lifespan in peripheral blood of about 120 days, after which the worn-out erythrocytes are removed by macrophages in the spleen, liver, and bone marrow.
Because of these and other cell-surface antigens, care must be taken to insure compatibility between donor and recipient in blood transfusions.
An abnormally high number of erythrocytes in the blood is termed polycythemia, whereas an abnormally low number is termed anemia.
When the erythrocyte is in normal plasma, the concentration of solutes within the cell is the same as the concentration outside the cell.
In other words, the osmotic pressure of the plasma is said to be isotonic with respect to the erythrocyte.
Thus, as erythrocyte production in the bone marrow increases, so does the number of reticulocytes in the blood.Anemias can be classified according to variations in erythrocyte size and intensity of staining.The variations in staining reflect the amount of hemoglobin within the cell.Sometimes the abnormal shape of the erythrocyte defines the anemia.In the case of sickle cell anemia, for example, a change in a single amino acid alters the hemoglobin molecule in such a way as to reduce its oxygen-carrying capacity and deform the erythrocyte.