Target cells are one of the hallmarks of beta thalassemia, and can also be seen with hemoglobin variants C or E, and in liver disease. The shape results from a relative excess of membrane (too much membrane, as seen in liver disease, or too little hemoglobin, as seen in thalassemia). When circulating, these cells assume a bell shape, and when flattened on the blood smear they appear as a "target." The proper Greek term is "codocyte," which means "bell."
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