High Reticulocyte Count Explained 101 [Back To Basics]

lady analyzing samples for high reticulocyte countIf a doctor has determined a high reticulocyte count, it is likely due to blood loss. However, finding the root cause can be difficult without advanced testing. This is where BioScan can provide critical insights.

Through innovative scanning technology, BioScan analyzes potential deficiencies, toxins, infections or other issues that may be overworking the bone marrow and driving high reticulocyte counts.

In the human body, you can also have immature red blood cells called reticulocytes. During the formation of red blood cells within the bone marrow, they are typically distributed and circulated into the bloodstream before becoming fully mature.

What is different about these red blood cells is that they do not possess a cellular nucleus. They have a reticular form which is how they could get their name. They are somewhat mesh-like, forming a network of RNA that is ribosomal. As a result of this, under a microscope, it looks very different from a traditional blood cell.

What Is The Significance?

To determine if the number of reticulocytes is excessive, you must first be able to measure this all accurately. There are modern machines that utilize automated counters. By counting the number of reticulocytes, they can then derive a plan to address this problem.

Some examples of this would be using titan yellow fluorescent dye, which can easily be seen when making these observations. Additionally, these can be identified by looking at the surrounding circulating cells.

How To Find Reticulocytes

You are looking for signals that they can admit which will not be as strong as a typical lymphocyte, yet it will not be as weak as what a red blood cell typically puts out. In addition to this, you can look at the color of the reticulocytes. They tend to be somewhat blue in color or shade.

In addition to this, reticulocytes are large compared to a standard blood cell. They can derive the fraction of blood cells to reticulocytes from this information. It can range up to 2.5% in adults, yet an infant’s reticulocytes can be as high as 6%. This percentage is how they can determine whether you have high reticulocyte numbers.

The Reticulocyte Production Index

This index is used to determine how quickly reticulocytes are formed, which is essential information, especially since higher than typical values can represent having anemia. They will then need to consider your genetics and the specific amount of bone marrow that you should have in your body. By measuring the amount of bone marrow, you have, combined with the reticulocyte count, they can determine if this is either normal or if you have far too many.

While getting an accurate reticulocyte count requires specialized blood testing, the innovative BioScan technology can help identify potential causes behind high or abnormal reticulocyte levels. How? By analyzing thousands of physiological indicators that could be contributing to bone marrow or red blood cell issues. With a quick and painless scan, BioScan can uncover potential deficiencies, toxicities, and other imbalances that may be taxing your patient’s bone marrow.

What Is The Normal Range?

Once the calculation is complete, the data will need to be interpreted. Each measurement will be relative to the situation and the person. Questions must be asked why the blood count is so high, if it is, and what should it be for this individual.

An example of this is someone that is anemic. However, instead of having 2.5% reticulocytes, they may only have 1%. One conclusion is that the bone marrow is not operating at proper levels, leading to the this condition. The other thing to consider is bone marrow activity in conjunction with the reticulocytes.

The production of red blood cells from the bone marrow represents whether a they are perfectly healthy or suffering. Those who suffer from different forms of cancer may not produce enough red blood cells. Therefore, reticulocyte is often used as an indicator for determining red blood cell problems in the body.

What If The Numbers Are Low?

If the numbers are low, chemotherapy may be why this is occurring. Cancer patients that are recovering from chemotherapy will usually have low reticulocyte numbers. They may also have aplastic anemia, or they may be suffering from deficiencies. Once this information is gathered, they can resolve the problem. Yet when your reticulocyte numbers are not low but extremely high, different issues may be occurring within your body.

Protein Translation And Reticulocytes

Reticulocytes can process protein just like a regular red blood cell in most cases. However, they are unusual due to the lack of an actual nucleus. Because of its absence, reticulocytes are extremely difficult to process when it comes to why they are in such high or low numbers.

By collecting different reticulocytes from animals, they can extract mRNA to figure out the problem. They will also look at certain enzymes related to protein translation and include in vitro system analyses.

What Does A High Reticulocyte Count Mean?

In some cases, extremely high numbers are a good sign. For example, many people cannot produce enough red blood cells due to a lack of iron. As a result, they will often have iron infusions delivered directly into their veins.

When this occurs, red blood cell counts will increase dramatically. Simultaneously, there will also be a high reticulocyte count, which indicates the replacement work. Therefore, higher numbers do not always represent a detrimental situation.

Certain conditions can destroy red blood cells prematurely. An example of this would have hemolytic anemia. There are environmental factors that can also contribute to high  counts. For instance, you will have less access to oxygen at higher altitudes. The absence of oxygen will disrupt how blood cells form in the body.

Other conditions that may arise include issues with your liver, kidneys, or a complete lack of energy. Physicians can administer protocols that can bring reticulocyte numbers back to normal.

paragliding at a high altitude

Fixing High Numbers

When you go to your doctor, they will likely prescribe some supplements to help you. They will first want to address dietary insufficiencies or deficiencies. From there, they can then consider environmental medicine.

If you have not been on chemotherapy and are perfectly well, it is likely the result of not having supplements that you take every day. Another way to improve excessive reticulocyte counts is to start drinking alcohol.

Alcohol consumption over an extended period will decrease the reticulocyte count quite effectively. However, as with all forms taken in excess, this can lead to liver problems. Therefore, increasing consumption is not a medical option for fixing this issue, but it can undoubtedly help moderate the situation.

On the other hand, it could be a sign that your bone marrow is in overdrive, producing more red blood cells than you need. The problem with excessive amounts of red blood cells is that such a reticulocyte index can cause excessive bleeding.


When assessing this, doctors are often looking for anemia. If you have lowered the red blood count each time you go in, it is likely a chronic condition. They may prescribe different medications to resolve the anemia, which will reduce reticulocyte numbers to normal levels as a byproduct.

They may also run bone marrow tests to ensure that your bone marrow produces enough red blood cells. A bone marrow transplant may be necessary to fix the this in certain circumstances. The testing may involve complete blood work, hemoglobin tests, and they may even stop chemotherapy.

When the reticulocyte count comes back high, it’s easy to feel lost on where to go next. However, BioScan can provide powerful insights that assist in determining the best way to help normalize it. Rather than guessing about potential causes, BioScan can pinpoint important clues related to lifestyle, environment, nutrition, and physiology that may be contributing to the high reticulocyte production.

These one-of-a-kind insights help with creating tailored plan to address any underlying issues that may be taxing bone marrow function. With BioScan, you have a detailed roadmap to inform smarter, more focused dietary, supplemental, and lifestyle changes to support healthy reticulocyte counts.

How Does The Doctor Run Tests?Red blood cells

A standard blood test will be done to extract enough for testing. Once the test tube is full, they will have enough blood to work with, and the test itself may only take about five minutes. There are no risks involved with having this test. If you have had a blood test before, this is the same procedure.

They will then determine if you have some form of hemolytic anemia and iron deficiency or if you do have bone marrow failure that is progressively getting worse. A physician is looking for liver cirrhosis, kidney issues, or pernicious anemia. Once determined, they can recommend specific options that will help fix the reticulocyte count.

Why Using BioScan Can Help

One major advantage of using BioScan is its unparalleled ability to identify potential issues and root causes. From vitamin and mineral levels to markers of infection, inflammation, and organ function, This comprehensive analysis is driven by BioScan’s galvanic skin response technology, which painlessly scans the body without any needles or blood draws. BioScan can uncover critical clues about what is happening inside your patient body at the cellular level.

For each person, the reason for this condition can vary. From obtaining a bone marrow transplant to having low amounts of iron and B vitamins in the body, all of these can contribute to this problem. At the very least, you will know why the body is producing more red blood cells than ever before.


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