Detached nuclear fragment



Generally smaller than a normal lobe of a neutrophil and most often rounded in shape, these are relatively dense and their colour should resemble normal nuclear material. They are similar in appearance to a Howell Jolly body.

Isolated nuclear fragment

A typical nuclear fragment is indicated by the arrow in this reactive cell from a patient with HIV infection


These tend to occur in the context of immunosuppression, particularly in HIV infection, but they may occur in myelodysplasia from any cause.


There are other causes of inclusions that may resemble nuclear fragments

  • Ensure the neutrophil does not appear apoptotic as nuclear fragmentation is typical of that process
  • Check this is not stain debris, and carefully examine the inclusion to ensure it is not a bacterium, pigment or unusual granular feature.