Causes of macrocytic anemia among 628 patients: mean corpuscular volumes of 114 and 130 fL as critical markers for categorization

Natsuko Takahashi, Junichi Kameoka, Naoto Takahashi, Yoshiko Tamai, Kazunori Murai, Riko Honma, Hideyoshi Noji, Hisayuki Yokoyama, Yasuo Tomiya, Yuichi Kato, Kenichi Ishizawa, Shigeki Ito, Yoji Ishida, Kenichi Sawada, Hideo Harigae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


There have been no studies on the distribution of causes of macrocytic anemia with respect to mean corpuscular volume (MCV) cutoff values. We retrospectively investigated the causes of macrocytic anemia (MCV ≥100 fL) among 628 patients who visited the outpatient hematology clinic in Tohoku University Hospital. To ensure data validity, we also analyzed data from 307 patients in eight other hospitals in the Tohoku district. The leading causes of macrocytic anemia (number of patients, %) were myelodysplastic syndromes (121, 19.3 %), suspected bone marrow failure syndromes (BMF; 74, 11.8 %), aplastic anemia (51, 8.1 %), plasma cell dyscrasia (45, 7.2 %), and vitamin B12 deficiency (40, 6.4 %) in Tohoku University Hospital. We made three primary findings as follows. First, the most common cause of macrocytic anemia is BMF. Second, lymphoid and solid malignancies are also common causes of macrocytosis. Third, macrocytic anemia may be classified into three groups: Group 1 (megaloblastic anemia and medications), which can exceed MCV 130 fL; Group 2 (alcoholism/liver disease, BMF, myeloid malignancy, and hemolytic anemia), which can exceed MCV 114 fL; and Group 3 (lymphoid malignancy, chronic renal failure, hypothyroidism, and solid tumors), which does not exceed MCV 114 fL. These conclusions were supported by the results from eight other hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-357
Number of pages14
JournalInternational journal of hematology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sep 1


  • Bone marrow failure syndromes
  • MCV
  • Macrocytic anemia
  • Megaloblastic anemia
  • Solid tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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