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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Hereditary spherocytosis

Other Names for this Disease
  • Congenital spherocytic hemolytic anemia
  • Congenital spherocytosis
  • Spherocytic anemia
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What causes hereditary spherocytosis?

Hereditary spherocytosis may be caused by mutations in any one of several genes. The mutations that cause the condition result in the formation of spherical, overly rigid, misshapen red blood cells. The misshapen red blood cells, called spherocytes, are removed from circulation and taken to the spleen for destruction. Within the spleen, the red blood cells break down (undergo hemolysis). The shortage of red blood cells in the blood circulation and the abundance of cells in the spleen are responsible for the signs and symptoms of this condition.[1] 

Mutations in the ANK1 gene are responsible for about half of all cases of hereditary spherocytosis. The other genes associated with hereditary spherocytosis account for a smaller percentage of cases and include the EPB42, SLC4A1, SPTA1, and SPTB genes.[1]
Last updated: 9/10/2012

  1. Hereditary spherocytosis. Genetics Home Reference. 2010; Accessed 5/3/2011.