a picture of sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder, predominantly affecting African-American individuals, that causes deformity of the red blood cells. These deformed red blood cells get stuck in and block off the capillaries (the smallest blood vessels), thus preventing adequate blood flow (and therefore oxygen) from reaching the tissues of the body. This blockage of small blood vessels is what causes the characteristic pain associated with sickle cell disease.
We’ve all heard of sickle cell disease, but what is really going on? What does it look like? Here are some electron microscope pictures demonstrating the actual difference between normal red blood cells and sickle red blood cells:
The difference in the shape of the cells is clear and quite stunning!