Auer Rods


Other Known Aliasesnone


Definition – Auer rods are azurophilic granules found in the cytoplasm of leukemic blast cells and are composed of fused lyosomes.


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Clinical SignificanceThese are found in high grade myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative syndromes and are pathognomonic for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).


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History – Named after John Auer (1875-1948), an American physiologist and pharmacologist, who held appointments at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, and the St. Louis School of Medicine. He first described these structures in a 21yo male who was suffering from a sore throat and nosebleed and admitted to Sir William Osler’s service for work-up.  He published this finding in 1906, but were first described by a colleague of his at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Thomas McCrae.  Interestingly, they both erroneously thought that the cells containing these structures were lymphoblasts, not myeloblasts.


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  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. Gordon SW, Krystal GW. Auer Rods. NEJM. 2017; 376(21):2065. [pubmed]
  6. Auer J. Some hitherto Undescribed Structures Found in the Large Lymphocytes of a Case of Acute Leukemia. AJMS. 1906;131(6):1002-1014 [article]
  7. McCrae T. Acute Lymphatic Leukemia, with Report of Five Cases. BMJ. 1905; 1(2304):404-8. [pubmed]
  8. John Auer. http://www.iqb.es/historiamedicina/personas/auer.htm

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