Sickle cells are rigid and shaped like a crescent unlike normal red blood cells which are more flexible and disc-shaped. This abnormal shape makes it harder for the cells to move around and can lead to blockage in blood vessels resulting in tissue and organ damage.
The cause of this discernible shape is due to a change in structure of haemoglobin molecules. Haemoglobin molecules contain alpha and beta units. In sickle cell anaemia, there is a gene mutation on chromosome 11 of the beta subunit. This mutation causes the haemoglobin molecules to join into long, inflexible chains, causing the sickle-cell shape.
Refer to Sickle Cell Anaemia for more information.
- ↑ Sickle cells http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Sickle-cell-anaemia/Pages/Introduction.aspx May 21, 2014.
- ↑ (2015) Sickle Cell Disease. [online]. University of Utah. Available at: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/disorders/singlegene/sicklecell/ [Accessed: 19/10/2015]