Red blood cell production in normal and Rauscher murine leukemia virus-infected mice was investigated using 55Fe as a marker.

Using autoradiographic techniques, increases in the percentage of labeling of red blood cells were found in blood smears taken at different time intervals after pulse labeling of the erythroid precursor cells. The total reticulocyte production per unit time is more than 2.8-fold in Rauscher murine leukemia virus-infected mice as compared with that in uninfected mice.

The life span of the newly formed cells was measured after [51Cr]chromate labeling of transfused erythrocytes in infected and in control mice. The life span as indicated by time that one-half of the labeled erythrocytes disappeared (t½) was reduced to one-quarter of that of erythrocytes of uninfected mice.

The functioning of the newly formed cells was analyzed by measuring the glucose utilization versus lactate production and by measuring the activities of a number of enzymes involved in glucose metabolism. Comparison of glucose metabolism in normal and leukemic mice and in mice recovering from artificially induced anemia revealed that the metabolic activity of erythrocytes from leukemic mice corresponds to the activity of young erythrocyte populations.

The increased reticulocyte production is, apparently, a result of the degree of anemia in infected animals. This anemia is not compensated for, however, since the loss of erythrocytes surpasses the flux of new red blood cells from the hematopoietic organs into the peripheral blood.

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