Sideroblastic anemia

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Characteristic microscopic appearance of sideroblastic anemia[1]

Sideroblastic anemia is a canine disease characterized by bone marrow production of sideroblasts rather than healthy erythrocytes.

Sideroblasts are formed by the irregular accumulation of iron in mitochondria.

There are two forms of sideroblastic anemia, congenital sideroblastic anemia and acquired sideroblastic anemia[2]. Congenital sideroblastic anemia has been reported in as an X-linged genetic disease in humans, but not dogs[3].

Most canine sideroblastic anemias are acquired secondary to chronic inflammatory diseases such as acute hepatitis, pancreatitis, glomerulonephritis or myelofibrosis[4].

Blood tests usually reveal a moderate to severe nonregenerative hypochromic anemia and the presence of large iron deposits in erythroid cells.

Other abnormalities may also be noted such as poikilocytosis, hypersegmented neutrophils and megakaryocytosis[5].

A definitive diagnosis usually requires bone marrow biopsy and histological evidence of dysplastic erythroid cell lines in tissue samples.

A differential diagnosis would include other causes of anemia such as iron deficiency and enteric- or hemo-parasites.

Treatment usually requires addressing underlying inflammatory disease and use of drugs such as iron folate, nandrolone and dietary supplements.


  2. Ohba R et al (2013) Clinical and genetic characteristics of congenital sideroblastic anemia: comparison with myelodysplastic syndrome with ring sideroblast (MDS-RS). Ann Hematol 92(1):1-9
  3. Harigae H et al (1999) A novel mutation of the erythroid-specific delta-aminolaevulinate synthase gene in a patient with X-linked sideroblastic anaemia. Br J Haematol 106(1):175–177
  4. Weiss DJ (2005) Sideroblastic anemia in 7 dogs (1996-2002). J Vet Intern Med 19(3):325-328
  5. Weiss DJ & Lulich J (1999) Myelodysplastic syndrome with sideroblastic differentiation in a dog. Vet Clin Pathol 28(2):59-63