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Lung diseases

Hemosiderin laden macrophages

03/17/2000

Question:

I would like to know if positive hemosiderin laden macrophages are only found in hemosiderosis and goodpastures recurrent hemoptysis

Answer:

Hemosiderin is a breakdown product of hemoglobin, and accumulates in macrophages whenever red blood cells enter the airways. Because the lung is a very vascular organ (remember, the main job of the lung is to move gases in and out of blood), red cells are not infrequently found in the airways, particularly whenever there is some breakdown in the alveoli (inflammation, infection, etc.) Thus, the finding of hemosiderin-laden macrophages is not specific to any single diagnosis; indeed, they may even be observed in the setting of congestive heart failure. Even so, the presence of hemosiderin-laden macrophages may be of value, for example, in establishing that red blood cells have been present for at least several weeks in the airways.

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Response by:

Stuart Green, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pathobiology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati