Hypochromic anemia

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Hypochromic anemia is a form of anemia characterized by a disproportionate reduction of red cell hemoglobin in proportion to the volume of the erythrocyte and an increased area of central pallor in the red cells.

Acquired forms

Hypochromic anemia may be caused by iron deficiency from a low iron intake, diminished iron absorption, or excessive iron loss. It can also be caused by infections or other diseases, therapeutic drugs such as Meropenem, and lead poisoning. One acquired form of anemia is also known as Faber's syndrome. It may also occur from severe stomach or intestinal bleeding caused by ulcers or medications such as aspirin.[1]

Hereditary forms

It can also occur in certain forms of congenital developmental disorders, like Benjamin syndrome.

Differentiating Hypochromic Anemia from Other Diseases

To review the differential diagnosis of anemia, click here.

Disease Genetics Clinical manifestation Lab findings
History Symptoms Signs Hemolysis Intrinsic/Extrinsic Hb concentration MCV RDW Reticulocytosis Haptoglobin levels Hepcidin Iron studies Specific finding on blood smear
Serum iron Serum Tfr level Transferrin or TIBC Ferritin Transferrin saturation
Iron deficiency anemia[2] Hypochromic Microcytic Nl or ↓ Nl Nl ↓↓↓
Lead poisoning[3]
  • House painted with chipped paint
Hypochromic Microcytic Nl Nl or ↓ Nl Nl Nl to ↓ Nl Nl Nl to ↓
  • RBCs retain aggregates of rRNA
  • Basophilic stippling
Sideroblastic anemia[4] Hypochromic Microcytic Nl Nl or ↓ Nl Nl Nl Nl to ↓
Anemia of chronic disease[5] Hypochromic Microcytic Nl Nl or ↓ Nl Nl NA
Thalassemia[6] α-thalassemia
  • α- globin gene deletions
  • Cis deletions
  • Trans deletions




Hypochromic Microcytic Nl
  • Thalassemia trait: Nl or ↓
  • Thalassemia Syndromes: ↑
Nl Nl Nl to ↑ Nl Nl Nl to ↑
Disease Genetics History Symptoms Signs Hemolysis Intrinsic/Extrinsic Hb concentration MCV RDW Reticulocytosis Haptoglobin levels Hepcidin Serum iron Serum Tfr level IBC Ferritin Transferrin saturation Specific finding on blood smear


  1. Miale JB (1982). Laboratory Medicine: Hematology. (6th ed.) The CV Mosby Company, St. Louis ISBN 1-125-44734-6
  2. Camaschella C (May 2015). "Iron-deficiency anemia". N. Engl. J. Med. 372 (19): 1832–43. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1401038. PMID 25946282.
  3. Bain BJ (December 2014). "Lead poisoning". Am. J. Hematol. 89 (12): 1141. doi:10.1002/ajh.23852. PMID 25220013.
  4. Bottomley SS, Fleming MD (August 2014). "Sideroblastic anemia: diagnosis and management". Hematol. Oncol. Clin. North Am. 28 (4): 653–70, v. doi:10.1016/j.hoc.2014.04.008. PMID 25064706.
  5. Roy CN (2010). "Anemia of inflammation". Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2010: 276–80. doi:10.1182/asheducation-2010.1.276. PMID 21239806.
  6. Zainal NZ, Alauddin H, Ahmad S, Hussin NH (December 2014). "α-Thalassemia with Haemoglobin Adana mutation: prenatal diagnosis". Malays J Pathol. 36 (3): 207–11. PMID 25500521.