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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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noun, plural: reticulocytes

An immature erythrocyte characterized by possessing a reticular network of RNA


In most vertebrates, the blood cells come from multipotent hematopoietic stem cells (hemocytoblasts) in bone marrow. A hemocytoblast gives rise to either lymphoid or myeloid stem cells. The myeloid stem cells, in particular, are progenitor cells that give rise to erythrocytes, granulocytes, monocytes, and megakaryocytes. The process by which a progenitor cell differentiates into an erythrocyte is referred to as erythropoiesis.

Erythropoiesis begins in a stem cell (particularly, CFU-e of common myeloid progenitor cells) that gives rise to proerythroblasts. A proerythroblast is a cell in the earliest stages of erythropoiesis, and serves as the precursor cell for erythroblast (or normoblast). The erythroblast, in turn, develops into a reticulocyte (also referred to as polychromatic erythrocyte). Prior to becoming a reticulocyte, the erythroblast loses its nucleus. Thus, a reticulocyte would be anucleated. Another distinctive characteristic of reticulocyte is the presence of reticular network of RNA when stained (e.g. with new methylene blue) and viewed under the microscope (thus, the name). The reticulocyte further develops to become an erythrocyte by losing the filamentous RNA in about two days after its release from the bone marrow to the peripheral blood.


  • reticulated erythrocyte
  • Skein cell

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