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This distinctive cell may form when the blood of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus is incubated and further processed according to a specified protocol. The plasma of some patients contains an antibody to the nucleoprotein of leukocytes. These altered nuclei, which are swollen, pink, and homogeneous, are ingested by phagocytes. These are the L.E. cells. The ingested material, when stained properly, is lavender and displaces the nucleus of the phagocyte to the inner surface of the cell membrane. The L.E. cell phenomenon can be demonstrated in most patients with systemic lupus erythematosus but is not essential for diagnosis.