Clinical publications


Int J Cardiol. 2017 Jun 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Detection of cardiac iron overload with native magnetic resonance T1 and T2 mapping in patients with thalassemia.

Krittayaphong R1, Zhang S2, Saiviroonporn P3, Viprakasit V4, Tanapibunpon P5, Komoltri C6, Wangworatrakul W7.



To investigate the diagnostic performance of native cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) T1 and T2 mapping for cardiac iron overload (CIO) in thalassemia patients.


All thalassemia patients who underwent CMR were enrolled on a clinical 1.5T scanner. Native T1 mapping with the Modified Look-Locker Inversion recovery (MOLLI) technique, T2 mapping using a black-blood multi-echo spin-echo technique, and conventional T2* mapping using multi-echo gradient-echo techniques were performed. CIO was defined by a T2* of <20ms; while severe CIO was considered as <10ms.


A total of 200 patients were enrolled in the study (23.9±14.6years old [mean±SD], 102 male). Among these, 8 patients (4.0%) had CIO. Both native T1 and T2 times were significant different among patients with no CIO, mild-to-moderate CIO, and severe CIO (1012.7±57.7 vs. 846.4±34.4 vs 601.3±34.6ms for T1, p<0.05; 59.6±6.5 vs. 48.7±2.5 vs. 32.8±1.2ms for T2, p<0.05). The best cut-off values for detection of CIO were 887 and 52ms for T1 and T2, respectively. This yielded a sensitivity, specificity and area under the curve (AUC) of 100%, 98.4% and 0.997 respectively for T1, in comparison to 100%, 88.8% and 0.961 respectively for T2.


Native T1 mapping can differentiate between severe, mild-to-moderate, and no CIO, which appears to be a promising technique for detection and assessment of myocardial iron.


PMID: 28688717 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2017.06.100




Haematologica. 2017 Jun 22. [Epub ahead of print]

Residual erythropoiesis protects against myocardial hemosiderosis in transfusion-dependent thalassemia by lowering labile plasma iron via transient generation of apotransferrin.

Garbowski MW1, Evans P2, Vlachodimitropoulou E2, Hider R3, Porter JB2.


Cardiosiderosis is a leading cause of mortality in transfusion-dependent thalassemias. Plasma non-transferrin-bound iron and its redox-active component, labile plasma iron, are key sources of iron loading in cardiosiderosis. Risk factors were identified in 73 patients with or without cardiosiderosis. Soluble transferrin receptor-1 levels were significantly lower in patients with cardiosiderosis (odds ratio 21). This risk increased when transfusion-iron loading rates exceeded the erythroid transferrin uptake rate (derived from soluble transferrin receptor-1) by >0.21mg/kg/d (odds ratio 48). Labile plasma iron was >3-fold higher where this uptake rate threshold was exceeded, but non-transferrin-bound iron and transferrin saturation were comparable. Cardiosiderosis risk was also decreased in patients with low liver iron, ferritin and labile plasma iron, or high bilirubin, reticulocyte counts or hepcidin. We hypothesized that high erythroid transferrin uptake rate decreases cardiosiderosis through increased erythroid re-generation of apotransferrin. To test this, iron uptake and intracellular reactive oxygen species were examined in HL-1 cardiomyocytes under conditions modelling transferrin effects on non-transferrin-bound iron speciation with ferric citrate. Intracellular iron and reactive oxygen species increased with ferric citrate concentrations especially where iron-to-citrate ratios exceeded 1:100, i.e. conditions favoring kinetically labile monoferric rather than oligomer species. Excess iron-binding equivalents of apotransferrin inhibited iron uptake, decreased intracellular reactive oxygen species and labile plasma iron, under conditions favoring monoferric species. In conclusion, high transferrin iron utilisation, relative to the transfusion-iron load rate, decreases the cardiosiderotic risk. A putative mechanism is the transient re-generation of apotransferrin by an active erythron, rapidly binding labile plasma iron-detectable ferric monocitrate species.


PMID: 28642302 DOI: 10.3324/haematol.2017.170605





Hematology. 2017 Jun 7 [Epub ahead of print]

Revisiting beta thalassemia intermedia: past, present, and future prospects.

Ben Salah N1, Bou-Fakhredin R2, Mellouli F3, Taher AT2.



The spectrum of thalassemias is wide ranging from thalassemia minor, which consists of mild hypochromic microcytic anemia without obvious clinical manifestations, to thalassemia major (TM), which is characterized by severe anemia since the first years of life and is transfusion dependent. Thalassemia intermedia (TI) describes those patients with mild or moderate anemia.


To describe the genetic features and major clinical complications of TI, and the therapeutic approaches available in the management of this disease.


Publications from potentially relevant journals were searched on Medline.


Over the past decade, the understanding of TI has increased with regard to pathophysiology and molecular studies. It is now clear that clinical presentation and specific complications make TI different from TM. It is associated with greater morbidity, a wider spectrum of organ dysfunction and more complications than previously thought.


TI is not a mild disease. The interplay of three hallmark pathophysiologic factors (ineffective erythropoiesis, chronic anemia, and iron overload) leads to the clinical presentations seen in TI. New treatment modalities are currently being investigated to broaden the options available for TI management.


PMID: 28589785 DOI: 10.1080/10245332.2017.1333246




Am J Hematol. 2017 May;92(5):420-428.

New film-coated tablet formulation of deferasirox is well tolerated in patients with thalassemia or lower-risk MDS: Results of the randomized, phase II ECLIPSE study.

Taher AT1, Origa R2, Perrotta S3, Kourakli A4, Ruffo GB5, Kattamis A6, Goh AS7, Cortoos A8, Huang V8, Weill M9, Merino Herranz R9, Porter JB10.


Once-daily deferasirox dispersible tablets (DT) have a well-defined safety and efficacy profile and, compared with parenteral deferoxamine, provide greater patient adherence, satisfaction, and quality of life. However, barriers still exist to optimal adherence, including gastrointestinal tolerability and palatability, leading to development of a new film-coated tablet (FCT) formulation that can be swallowed with a light meal, without the need to disperse into a suspension prior to consumption. The randomized, open-label, phase II ECLIPSE study evaluated the safety of deferasirox DT and FCT formulations over 24 weeks in chelation-naïve or pre-treated patients aged ≥10 years, with transfusion-dependent thalassemia or IPSS-R very-low-, low-, or intermediate-risk myelodysplastic syndromes. One hundred seventy-three patients were randomized 1:1 to DT (n = 86) or FCT (n = 87). Adverse events (overall), consistent with the known deferasirox safety profile, were reported in similar proportions of patients for each formulation (DT 89.5%; FCT 89.7%), with a lower frequency of severe events observed in patients receiving FCT (19.5% vs. 25.6% DT). Laboratory parameters (serum creatinine, creatinine clearance, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and urine protein/creatinine ratio) generally remained stable throughout the study. Patient-reported outcomes showed greater adherence and satisfaction, better palatability and fewer concerns with FCT than DT. Treatment compliance by pill count was higher with FCT (92.9%) than with DT (85.3%). This analysis suggests deferasirox FCT offers an improved formulation with enhanced patient satisfaction, which may improve adherence, thereby reducing frequency and severity of iron overload-related complications.


PMID: 28142202 DOI: 10.1002/ajh.24668




Haematologica. 2017 Feb;102(2):214-223.

Cure for thalassemia major – from allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to gene therapy.

Srivastava A1, Shaji RV2.


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has been well established for several decades as gene replacement therapy for patients with thalassemia major, and now offers very high rates of cure for patients who have access to this therapy. Outcomes have improved tremendously over the last decade, even in high-risk patients. The limited data available suggests that the long-term outcome is also excellent, with a >90% survival rate, but for the best results, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation should be offered early, before any end organ damage occurs. However, access to this therapy is limited in more than half the patients by the lack of suitable donors. Inadequate hematopoietic stem cell transplantation services and the high cost of therapy are other reasons for this limited access, particularly in those parts of the world which have a high prevalence of this condition. As a result, fewer than 10% of eligible patients are actually able to avail of this therapy. Other options for curative therapies are therefore needed. Recently, gene correction of autologous hematopoietic stem cells has been successfully established using lentiviral vectors, and several clinical trials have been initiated. A gene editing approach to correct the β-globin mutation or disrupt the BCL11A gene to increase fetal hemoglobin production has also been reported, and is expected to be introduced in clinical trials soon. Curative possibilities for the major hemoglobin disorders are expanding. Providing access to these therapies around the world will remain a challenge.


PMID: 27909215 PMCID: PMC5286930 DOI: 10.3324/haematol.2015.141200





Haematologica. 2017 Mar;102(3):e80-e84

Selective silencing of α-globin by the histone demethylase inhibitor IOX1: a potentially new pathway for treatment of β-thalassemia.

Mettananda S1,2, Fisher CA1, Sloane-Stanley JA3, Taylor S3, Oppermann U4,5, Gibbons RJ1, Higgs DR6,7.


PMID: 27810991 PMCID: PMC5394973 DOI: 10.3324/haematol.2016.155655





Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2017 Jan;64(1):188-196.

One-year results from a prospective randomized trial comparing phlebotomy with deferasirox for the treatment of iron overload in pediatric patients with thalassemia major following curative stem cell transplantation.

Inati A1,2, Kahale M2, Sbeiti N3, Cappellini MD4, Taher AT5, Koussa S6, Nasr TA6, Musallam KM5, Abbas HA7, Porter JB8.



Iron overload is well documented in patients with β-thalassemia major, and patients who have undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) remain at risk as a result of pre- and immediate post-HSCT transfusions.


This is a prospective, randomized, 1-year clinical trial that compares the efficacy and safety of the once-daily oral iron chelator deferasirox versus phlebotomy for the treatment of iron overload in children with β-thalassemia major following HSCT.


Patients (aged 12.4 years) received deferasirox (n = 12, 10 mg/kg/day starting dose) or phlebotomy (n = 14, 6 ml/kg/2 weeks) for 1 year. In two and five patients, deferasirox dose was increased to 15 and 20 mg/kg/day, respectively. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-assessed liver iron concentration (LIC) decreased with deferasirox (mean 12.5 ± 10.1 to 8.5 ± 9.3 mg Fe/g dry weight [dw]; P = 0.0005 vs. baseline) and phlebotomy (10.2 ± 6.8 to 8.3 ± 9.2 mg Fe/g dw; P = 0.05). LIC reductions were greater with deferasirox than with phlebotomy for patients with baseline serum ferritin 1,000 ng/ml or higher (-8.1 ± 1.5 vs. -3.5 ± 5.7 mg Fe/g dw; P = 0.048). Serum ferritin and non-transferrin-bound iron also decreased significantly. In two patients with severe cardiac siderosis, a clinically relevant improvement in myocardial T2* was seen, following phlebotomy and deferasirox therapy (n = 1 each). Adverse effects with deferasirox were skin rash, gastrointestinal upset, and increased liver function tests (all n = 1), while those for phlebotomy were difficulty with venous access (n = 4) and distress during procedure (n = 1). Parents of 13/14 children receiving phlebotomy wished to switch to deferasirox, with 1/14 being satisfied with phlebotomy.


Deferasirox treatment or phlebotomy reduces iron burden in pediatric patients with β- thalassemia major post-HSCT, with a manageable safety profile.


PMID: 27576370 DOI: 10.1002/pbc.26213




Eur J Heart Fail. 2017 Apr;19(4):479-489.

Heart failure in haemoglobinopathies: pathophysiology, clinical phenotypes, and management.

Farmakis D1, Triposkiadis F2, Lekakis J1, Parissis J1.


Hereditary haemoglobinopathies, mainly beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease, constitute the most common monogenic disorders in humans, and although once geographically confined, they are currently globally distributed. They are demanding clinical entities that require multidisciplinary medical management. Despite their genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity, the haemoglobinopathies share several similarities in pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, therapeutic requirements, and complications, among which heart failure (HF) represents a leading cause of mortality and morbidity. However, haemoglobinopathies have generally been addressed in a rather fragmentary manner. A unifying approach focusing on the underlying similarities of HF attributes in the two main entities might contribute to their better understanding, characterization, and management. In the present review, we attempt such an approach to the pathophysiology, clinical phenotypes, and management of HF in haemoglobinopathies.


PMID: 28000341 DOI: 10.1002/ejhf.708





Sickle Cell Disease


Blood. 2017 Mar 16;129(11):1548-1556.

Sickle cell disease: an international survey of results of HLA-identical sibling hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Gluckman E1,2, Cappelli B2, Bernaudin F3, Labopin M4, Volt F1,2, Carreras J5, Pinto Simões B6, Ferster A7, Dupont S8, de la Fuente J9, Dalle JH10, Zecca M11, Walters MC12, Krishnamurti L13, Bhatia M14, Leung K15, Yanik G16, Kurtzberg J17, Dhedin N18, Kuentz M3, Michel G19, Apperley J20, Lutz P21, Neven B22, Bertrand Y23, Vannier JP24, Ayas M25, Cavazzana M26,27,28, Matthes-Martin S29, Rocha V1,30,31, Elayoubi H1,2, Kenzey C1,2, Bader P32, Locatelli F33,34, Ruggeri A1,2,35, Eapen M5; Eurocord, the Pediatric Working Party of the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research.


Despite advances in supportive therapy to prevent complications of sickle cell disease (SCD), access to care is not universal. Hematopoietic cell transplantation is, to date, the only curative therapy for SCD, but its application is limited by availability of a suitable HLA-matched donor and lack of awareness of the benefits of transplant. Included in this study are 1000 recipients of HLA-identical sibling transplants performed between 1986 and 2013 and reported to the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Eurocord, and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. The primary endpoint was event-free survival, defined as being alive without graft failure; risk factors were studied using a Cox regression models. The median age at transplantation was 9 years, and the median follow-up was longer than 5 years. Most patients received a myeloablative conditioning regimen (n = 873; 87%); the remainder received reduced-intensity conditioning regimens (n = 125; 13%). Bone marrow was the predominant stem cell source (n = 839; 84%); peripheral blood and cord blood progenitors were used in 73 (7%) and 88 (9%) patients, respectively. The 5-year event-free survival and overall survival were 91.4% (95% confidence interval, 89.6%-93.3%) and 92.9% (95% confidence interval, 91.1%-94.6%), respectively. Event-free survival was lower with increasing age at transplantation (hazard ratio [HR], 1.09; P < .001) and higher for transplantations performed after 2006 (HR, 0.95; P = .013). Twenty-three patients experienced graft failure, and 70 patients (7%) died, with the most common cause of death being infection. The excellent outcome of a cohort transplanted over the course of 3 decades confirms the role of HLA-identical sibling transplantation for children and adults with SCD.


PMID: 27965196 PMCID: PMC5356458 [Available on 2018-03-16] DOI: 10.1182/blood-2016-10-745711




Blood. 2017 May 18;129(20):2719-2726.

Treating sickle cell disease by targeting HbS polymerization.

Eaton WA1, Bunn HF2.


Although the root cause of sickle cell disease is the polymerization of hemoglobin S (HbS) to form fibers that make red cells less flexible, most drugs currently being assessed in clinical trials are targeting the downstream sequelae of this primary event. Less attention has been devoted to investigation of the multiple ways in which fiber formation can be inhibited. In this article, we describe the molecular rationale for 5 distinct approaches to inhibiting polymerization and also discuss progress with the few antipolymerization drugs currently in clinical trials.


PMID: 28385699 PMCID: PMC5437829 DOI: 10.1182/blood-2017-02-765891





N Engl J Med. 2017 Feb 2;376(5):429-439.

Crizanlizumab for the Prevention of Pain Crises in Sickle Cell Disease.

Ataga KI1, Kutlar A1, Kanter J1, Liles D1, Cancado R1, Friedrisch J1, Guthrie TH1, Knight-Madden J1, Alvarez OA1, Gordeuk VR1, Gualandro S1, Colella MP1, Smith WR1, Rollins SA1, Stocker JW1, Rother RP1.



The up-regulation of P-selectin in endothelial cells and platelets contributes to the cell-cell interactions that are involved in the pathogenesis of vaso-occlusion and sickle cell-related pain crises. The safety and efficacy of crizanlizumab, an antibody against the adhesion molecule P-selectin, were evaluated in patients with sickle cell disease.


In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial, we assigned patients to receive low-dose crizanlizumab (2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight), high-dose crizanlizumab (5.0 mg per kilogram), or placebo, administered intravenously 14 times over a period of 52 weeks. Patients who were receiving concomitant hydroxyurea as well as those not receiving hydroxyurea were included in the study. The primary end point was the annual rate of sickle cell-related pain crises with high-dose crizanlizumab versus placebo. The annual rate of days hospitalized, the times to first and second crises, annual rates of uncomplicated crises (defined as crises other than the acute chest syndrome, hepatic sequestration, splenic sequestration, or priapism) and the acute chest syndrome, and patient-reported outcomes were also assessed.


A total of 198 patients underwent randomization at 60 sites. The median rate of crises per year was 1.63 with high-dose crizanlizumab versus 2.98 with placebo (indicating a 45.3% lower rate with high-dose crizanlizumab, P=0.01). The median time to the first crisis was significantly longer with high-dose crizanlizumab than with placebo (4.07 vs. 1.38 months, P=0.001), as was the median time to the second crisis (10.32 vs. 5.09 months, P=0.02). The median rate of uncomplicated crises per year was 1.08 with high-dose crizanlizumab, as compared with 2.91 with placebo (indicating a 62.9% lower rate with high-dose crizanlizumab, P=0.02). Adverse events that occurred in 10% or more of the patients in either active-treatment group and at a frequency that was at least twice as high as that in the placebo group were arthralgia, diarrhea, pruritus, vomiting, and chest pain.


In patients with sickle cell disease, crizanlizumab therapy resulted in a significantly lower rate of sickle cell-related pain crises than placebo and was associated with a low incidence of adverse events. (Funded by Selexys Pharmaceuticals and others; SUSTAIN number, NCT01895361 .).


PMID: 27959701 PMCID: PMC5481200 [Available on 2017-08-02] DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1611770




Haematologica. 2017 Feb;102(2):246-259.

ARQ 092, an orally-available, selective AKT inhibitor, attenuates neutrophil-platelet interactions in sickle cell disease.

Kim K1, Li J1, Barazia A1, Tseng A1, Youn SW1, Abbadessa G2, Yu Y2, Schwartz B2, Andrews RK3, Gordeuk VR4,5, Cho J6.


Previous studies identified the Ser/Thr protein kinase, AKT, as a therapeutic target in thrombo-inflammatory diseases. Here we report that specific inhibition of AKT with ARQ 092, an orally-available AKT inhibitor currently in phase Ib clinical trials as an anti-cancer drug, attenuates the adhesive function of neutrophils and platelets from sickle cell disease patients in vitro and cell-cell interactions in a mouse model of sickle cell disease. Studies using neutrophils and platelets isolated from sickle cell disease patients revealed that treatment with 50-500 nM ARQ 092 significantly blocks αMβ2 integrin function in neutrophils and reduces P-selectin exposure and glycoprotein Ib/IX/V-mediated agglutination in platelets. Treatment of isolated platelets and neutrophils with ARQ 092 inhibited heterotypic cell-cell aggregation under shear conditions. Intravital microscopic studies demonstrated that short-term oral administration of ARQ 092 or hydroxyurea, a major therapy for sickle cell disease, diminishes heterotypic cell-cell interactions in venules of sickle cell disease mice challenged with tumor necrosis factor-α. Co-administration of hydroxyurea and ARQ 092 further reduced the adhesive function of neutrophils in venules and neutrophil transmigration into alveoli, inhibited expression of E-selectin and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 in cremaster vessels, and improved survival in these mice. Ex vivo studies in sickle cell disease mice suggested that co-administration of hydroxyurea and ARQ 092 efficiently blocks neutrophil and platelet activation and that the beneficial effect of hydroxyurea results from nitric oxide production. Our results provide important evidence that ARQ 092 could be a novel drug for the prevention and treatment of acute vaso-occlusive complications in patients with sickle cell disease.


PMID: 27758820 PMCID: PMC5286933 DOI: 10.3324/haematol.2016.151159





Haematologica. 2017 Apr;102(4):626-636.

Risk factors for mortality in adult patients with sickle cell disease: a meta-analysis of studies in North America and Europe.

Maitra P1, Caughey M2, Robinson L3, Desai PC4, Jones S5, Nouraie M6, Gladwin MT7, Hinderliter A3, Cai J1, Ataga KI8.


Although recent studies show an improved survival of children with sickle cell disease in the US and Europe, for adult patients mortality remains high. This study was conducted to evaluate the factors associated with mortality in adult patients following the approval of hydroxyurea. We first evaluated the association between selected variables and mortality at an academic center (University of North Carolina). Data sources were then searched for publications from 1998 to June 2016, with meta-analysis of eligible studies conducted in North America and Europe to evaluate the associations of selected variables with mortality in adult patients. Nine studies, combined with the UNC cohort (total n=3257 patients) met the eligibility criteria. Mortality was significantly associated with age (per 10-year increase in age) [7 studies, 2306 participants; hazard ratio (HR): 1.28; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.10-1.50], tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity 2.5 m/s or more (5 studies, 1577 participants; HR: 3.03; 95%CI: 2.0-4.60), reticulocyte count (3 studies, 1050 participants; HR: 1.05; 95%CI: 1.01-1.10), log(N-terminal-pro-brain natriuretic peptide) (3 studies, 800 participants; HR: 1.68; 95%CI: 1.48-1.90), and fetal hemoglobin (7 studies, 2477 participants; HR: 0.97; 95%CI: 0.94-1.0). This study identifies variables associated with mortality in adult patients with sickle cell disease in the hydroxyurea era.


PMID: 28104703 PMCID: PMC5395103 DOI: 10.3324/haematol.2016.153791





Am J Hematol. 2017 Jun 7. [Epub ahead of print]

Losartan for the nephropathy of sickle cell anemia: A phase-2, multicenter trial.

Quinn CT1, Saraf SL2, Gordeuk VR2, Fitzhugh CD3, Creary SE4, Bodas P5, George A6, Raj AB7, Nero AC8, Terrell CE1, McCord L9, Lane A1, Ackerman HC3, Yang Y3, Niss O1, Taylor MD10, Devarajan P11, Malik P1.


Nephropathy is a common and progressive complication of sickle cell anemia (SCA). In SCA mice, we found that hyperangiotensinemia in the absence of hypertension underlies nephropathy, and its downregulation by losartan, an angiotensin-II-receptor-1 blocker, reduced albuminuria and progression of nephropathy. Therefore, we performed a phase-2 trial of oral losartan, given for 6 months, to explore whether it reduced albuminuria in children and adults with SCA. Participants were allocated to groups defined by class of baseline urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR): no albuminuria (NoA), microalbuminuria (MicroA), and macroalbuminuria (MacroA). The primary endpoint was a ≥25% reduction UACR from baseline. There were 32 evaluable participants (mean age 24 years; NoA = 14, MicroA = 12, MacroA = 6). The primary endpoint was met in 83% of the MacroA group (P < 0.0001) and 58% of the MicroA group (P < 0.0001). Median fold-change in UACR was -0.74 for MacroA and -0.46 for MicroA. In MacroA and MicroA, UACR classification improved in 50% but worsened in 11%. Urine osmolality and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) did not change significantly. Losartan was discontinued in three participants [leg cramps, N = 1; decline in eGFR >25% (142➝104 mL/minute/1.73 m2 ), N = 1; rise in serum creatinine >50% (0.2➝0.3 mg/dL), N = 1]. Albuminuria was associated with diastolic dysfunction and impaired functional capacity, although cardiopulmonary status was unchanged after 6 months of losartan therapy. In summary, losartan decreased urinary albumin excretion in most participants with albuminuria. Those with macroalbuminuria had the greatest benefit. This study forms the basis for a phase-3, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of losartan for the nephropathy of SCA.


PMID: 28589652 DOI: 10.1002/ajh.24810



Am J Hematol. 2017 Jun;92(6):569-582.

The role of carbon monoxide and heme oxygenase in the prevention of sickle cell disease vaso-occlusive crises.

Gomperts E1, Belcher JD2, Otterbein LE3, Coates TD4, Wood J4, Skolnick BE1, Levy H1, Vercellotti GM2.


Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a painful, lifelong hemoglobinopathy inherited as a missense point mutation in the hemoglobin (Hb) beta-globin gene. This disease has significant impact on quality of life and mortality, thus a substantial medical need exists to reduce the vaso-occlusive crises which underlie the pathophysiology of the disease. The concept that a gaseous molecule may exert biological function has been well known for over one hundred years. Carbon monoxide (CO), although studied in SCD for over 50 years, has recently emerged as a powerful cytoprotective biological response modifier capable of regulating a host of physiologic and therapeutic processes that, at low concentrations, exerts key physiological functions in various models of tissue inflammation and injury. CO is physiologically generated by the metabolism of heme by the heme oxygenase enzymes and is measurable in blood. A substantial amount of preclinical and clinical data with CO have been generated, which provide compelling support for CO as a potential therapeutic in a number of pathological conditions. Data underlying the therapeutic mechanisms of CO, including in SCD, have been generated by a plethora of in vitro and preclinical studies including multiple SCD mouse models. These data show CO to have key signaling impacts on a host of metallo-enzymes as well as key modulating genes that in sum, result in significant anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-apoptotic effects as well as vasodilation and anti-adhesion of cells to the endothelium resulting in preservation of vascular flow. CO may also have a role as an anti-polymerization HbS agent. In addition, considerable scientific data in the non-SCD literature provide evidence for a beneficial impact of CO on cerebrovascular complications, suggesting that in SCD, CO could potentially limit these highly problematic neurologic outcomes. Research is needed and hopefully forthcoming, to carefully elucidate the safety and benefits of this potential therapy across the age spectrum of patients impacted by the host of pathophysiological complications of this devastating disease.


PMID: 28378932 DOI: 10.1002/ajh.24750




Am J Hematol. 2017 Jul;92(7):622-631.

Inhaled steroids reduce pain and sVCAM levels in individuals with sickle cell disease: A triple-blind, randomized trial.

Glassberg J1, Minnitti C2, Cromwell C3, Cytryn L3, Kraus T4, Skloot GS5, Connor JT6, Rahman AH7, Meurer WJ8.


Clinical and preclinical data demonstrate that altered pulmonary physiology (including increased inflammation, increased blood flow, airway resistance, and hyper-reactivity) is an intrinsic component of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and may contribute to excess SCD morbidity and mortality. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), a safe and effective therapy for pulmonary inflammation in asthma, may ameliorate the altered pulmonary physiologic milieu in SCD. With this single-center, longitudinal, randomized, triple-blind, placebo controlled trial we studied the efficacy and feasibility of ICS in 54 nonasthmatic individuals with SCD. Participants received once daily mometasone furoate 220 mcg dry powder inhalation or placebo for 16 weeks. The primary outcome was feasibility (the number who complete the trial divided by the total number enrolled) with prespecified efficacy outcomes including daily pain score over time (patient reported) and change in soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule (sVCAM) levels between entry and 8-weeks. For the primary outcome of feasibility, the result was 96% (52 of 54, 95% CI 87%-99%) for the intent-to-treat analysis and 83% (45 of 54, 95% CI 71%-91%) for the per-protocol analysis. The adjusted treatment effect of mometasone was a reduction in daily pain score of 1.42 points (95%CI 0.61-2.21, P = 0.001). Mometasone was associated with a reduction in sVCAM levels of 526.94 ng/mL more than placebo (95% CI 50.66-1003.23, P = 0.03). These results support further study of ICS in SCD including multicenter trials and longer durations of treatment. (NCT02061202).


PMID: 28370266 – DOI: 10.1002/ajh.24742



Am J Hematol. 2017 Jan;92(1):77-81.

Hydroxyurea effectiveness in children and adolescents with sickle cell anemia: A large retrospective, population-based cohort.

Quarmyne MO1,2, Dong W3, Theodore R1, Anand S1, Barry V2, Adisa O1,2, Buchanan ID1,4, Bost J5, Brown RC1,2, Joiner CH1,2, Lane PA1,2.


The clinical efficacy of hydroxyurea in patients with sickle cell anemia (SCA) has been well established. However, data about its clinical effectiveness in practice is limited. We evaluated the clinical effectiveness of hydroxyurea in a large pediatric population using a retrospective cohort, pre-post treatment study design to control for disease severity selection bias. The cohort included children with SCA (SS, Sβ0 thalassemia) who received care at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and who initiated hydroxyurea in 2009-2011. Children on chronic transfusions, or children with inadequate follow up data and/or children who had taken hydroxyurea in the 3 years prior were excluded. For each patient healthcare utilization, laboratory values, and clinical outcomes for the 2-year period prior to hydroxyurea initiation were compared to those 2 years after initiation. Of 211 children with SCA who initiated hydroxyurea in 2009-2011, 134 met eligibility criteria. After initiation of hydroxyurea, rates of hospitalizations, pain encounters, and emergency department visits were reduced by 47% (<0.0001), 36% (P = 0.0001) and 43% (P < 0.0001), respectively. Average hemoglobin levels increased by 0.7 g/dl (P < 0.0001). Hydroxyurea effectiveness was similar across gender, insurance types and age, although there was a slightly greater reduction in hospitalizations in younger children. Am. J. Hematol. 92:77-81, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


PMID: 27761932 PMCID – DOI: 10.1002/ajh.24587




JAMA. 2017 Feb 7;317(5):507-515.

Association of Sickle Cell Trait With Hemoglobin A1c in African Americans.

Lacy ME1Wellenius GA1Sumner AE2Correa A3Carnethon MR4Liem RI5Wilson JG6Sacks DB7Jacobs DR Jr8Carson AP9Luo X10Gjelsvik A1Reiner AP11Naik RP12Liu S13Musani SK3Eaton CB1Wu WC14.



Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) reflects past glucose concentrations, but this relationship may differ between those with sickle cell trait (SCT) and those without it.


To evaluate the association between SCT and HbA1c for given levels of fasting or 2-hour glucose levels among African Americans.


Retrospective cohort study using data collected from 7938 participants in 2 community-based cohorts, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study and the Jackson Heart Study (JHS). From the CARDIA study, 2637 patients contributed a maximum of 2 visits (2005-2011); from the JHS, 5301 participants contributed a maximum of 3 visits (2000-2013). All visits were scheduled at approximately 5-year intervals. Participants without SCT data, those without any concurrent HbA1c and glucose measurements, and those with hemoglobin variants HbSS, HbCC, or HbAC were excluded. Analysis of the primary outcome was conducted using generalized estimating equations (GEE) to examine the association of SCT with HbA1c levels, controlling for fasting or 2-hour glucose measures.


Presence of SCT.


Hemoglobin A1c stratified by the presence or absence of SCT was the primary outcome measure.


The analytic sample included 4620 participants (mean age, 52.3 [SD, 11.8] years; 2835 women [61.3%]; 367 [7.9%] with SCT) with 9062 concurrent measures of fasting glucose and HbA1c levels. In unadjusted GEE analyses, for a given fasting glucose, HbA1c values were statistically significantly lower in those with (5.72%) vs those without (6.01%) SCT (mean HbA1c difference, -0.29%; 95% CI, -0.35% to -0.23%). Findings were similar in models adjusted for key risk factors and in analyses using 2001 concurrent measures of 2-hour glucose and HbA1c concentration for those with SCT (mean, 5.35%) vs those without SCT (mean, 5.65%) for a mean HbA1c difference of -0.30% (95% CI, -0.39% to -0.21%). The HbA1c difference by SCT was greater at higher fasting (P = .02 for interaction) and 2-hour (P = .03) glucose concentrations. The prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes was statistically significantly lower among participants with SCT when defined using HbA1c values (29.2% vs 48.6% for prediabetes and 3.8% vs 7.3% for diabetes in 572 observations from participants with SCT and 6877 observations from participants without SCT; P<.001 for both comparisons).


Among African Americans from 2 large, well-established cohorts, participants with SCT had lower levels of HbA1c at any given concentration of fasting or 2-hour glucose compared with participants without SCT. These findings suggest that HbA1c may systematically underestimate past glycemia in black patients with SCT and may require further evaluation.



Lancet. 2017 Jul 15;390(10091):311-323.

Sickle cell disease.

Ware RE1de Montalembert M2Tshilolo L3Abboud MR4.


Sickle cell disease is a common and life-threatening haematological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Abnormal sickle-shaped erythrocytes disrupt blood flow in small vessels, and this vaso-occlusion leads to distal tissue ischaemia and inflammation, with symptoms defining the acute painful sickle-cell crisis. Repeated sickling and ongoing haemolytic anaemia, even when subclinical, lead to parenchymal injury and chronic organ damage, causing substantial morbidity and early mortality. Currently available treatments are limited to transfusions and hydroxycarbamide, although stem cell transplantation might be a potentially curative therapy. Several new therapeutic options are in development, including gene therapy and gene editing. Recent advances include systematic universal screening for stroke risk, improved management of iron overload using oral chelators and non-invasive MRI measurements, and point-of-care diagnostic devices. Controversies include the role of haemolysis in sickle cell disease pathophysiology, optimal management of pregnancy, and strategies to prevent cerebrovascular disease.


DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30193-9.




N Engl J Med. 2016 Dec 3. [Epub ahead of print]
Crizanlizumab for the Prevention of Pain Crises in Sickle Cell Disease.
Ataga KI1, Kutlar A1, Kanter J1, Liles D1, Cancado R1, Friedrisch J1, Guthrie TH1, Knight-Madden J1, Alvarez OA1, Gordeuk VR1, Gualandro S1, Colella MP1, Smith WR1, Rollins SA1, Stocker JW1, Rother RP1.
Author information
Background The up-regulation of P-selectin in endothelial cells and platelets contributes to the cell-cell interactions that are involved in the pathogenesis of vaso-occlusion and sickle cell-related pain crises. The safety and efficacy of crizanlizumab, an antibody against the adhesion molecule P-selectin, were evaluated in patients with sickle cell disease. Methods In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial, we assigned patients to receive low-dose crizanlizumab (2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight), high-dose crizanlizumab (5.0 mg per kilogram), or placebo, administered intravenously 14 times over a period of 52 weeks. Patients who were receiving concomitant hydroxyurea as well as those not receiving hydroxyurea were included in the study. The primary end point was the annual rate of sickle cell-related pain crises with high-dose crizanlizumab versus placebo. The annual rate of days hospitalized, the times to first and second crises, annual rates of uncomplicated crises (defined as crises other than the acute chest syndrome, hepatic sequestration, splenic sequestration, or priapism) and the acute chest syndrome, and patient-reported outcomes were also assessed. Results A total of 198 patients underwent randomization at 60 sites. The median rate of crises per year was 1.63 with high-dose crizanlizumab versus 2.98 with placebo (indicating a 45.3% lower rate with high-dose crizanlizumab, P=0.01). The median time to the first crisis was significantly longer with high-dose crizanlizumab than with placebo (4.07 vs. 1.38 months, P=0.001), as was the median time to the second crisis (10.32 vs. 5.09 months, P=0.02). The median rate of uncomplicated crises per year was 1.08 with high-dose crizanlizumab, as compared with 2.91 with placebo (indicating a 62.9% lower rate with high-dose crizanlizumab, P=0.02). Adverse events that occurred in 10% or more of the patients in either active-treatment group and at a frequency that was at least twice as high as that in the placebo group were arthralgia, diarrhea, pruritus, vomiting, and chest pain. Conclusions In patients with sickle cell disease, crizanlizumab therapy resulted in a significantly lower rate of sickle cell-related pain crises than placebo and was associated with a low incidence of adverse events. (Funded by Selexys Pharmaceuticals and others; SUSTAIN number, NCT01895361 .).

N Engl J Med. 2016 Feb 18;374(7):625-35.
A Multinational Trial of Prasugrel for Sickle Cell Vaso-Occlusive Events.
Heeney MM1, Hoppe CC, Abboud MR, Inusa B, Kanter J, Ogutu B, Brown PB, Heath LE, Jakubowski JA, Zhou C, Zamoryakhin D, Agbenyega T, Colombatti R, Hassab HM, Nduba VN, Oyieko JN, Robitaille N, Segbefia CI, Rees DC; DOVE Investigators.
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that is characterized by painful vaso-occlusive crises, for which there are few treatment options. Platelets mediate intercellular adhesion and thrombosis during vaso-occlusion in sickle cell anemia, which suggests a role for antiplatelet agents in modifying disease events.
Children and adolescents 2 through 17 years of age with sickle cell anemia were randomly assigned to receive oral prasugrel or placebo for 9 to 24 months. The primary end point was the rate of vaso-occlusive crisis, a composite of painful crisis or acute chest syndrome. The secondary end points were the rate of sickle cell-related pain and the intensity of pain, which were assessed daily with the use of pain diaries.
A total of 341 patients underwent randomization at 51 sites in 13 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The rate of vaso-occlusive crisis events per person-year was 2.30 in the prasugrel group and 2.77 in the placebo group (rate ratio, 0.83; 95% confidence interval, 0.66 to 1.05; P=0.12). There were no significant differences between the groups in the secondary end points of diary-reported events. The safety end points, including the frequency of bleeding events requiring medical intervention, of hemorrhagic and nonhemorrhagic adverse events that occurred while patients were taking prasugrel or placebo, and of discontinuations due to prasugrel or placebo, did not differ significantly between the groups.
Among children and adolescents with sickle cell anemia, the rate of vaso-occlusive crisis was not significantly lower among those who received prasugrel than among those who received placebo. There were no significant between-group differences in the safety findings. (Funded by Daiichi Sankyo and Eli Lilly; number, NCT01794000.).

Haematologica. 2016 Dec 1.[Epub ahead of print]
Cure for thalassemia major: from allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to gene therapy.
Srivastava A1, Shaji RV2.
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has been established for several decades as a gene replacement therapy for patients with thalassemia major and now offers very high rates of cure to those who are able to access this therapy. Outcomes have improved tremendously over the last decade even in high-risk patients. The limited data available suggests that the long-term outcome is also excellent with >90% survival but for best results, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation should be offered early before any end organ damage occurs. However, access to this therapy is limited by lack of suitable donors in more than half the patients. Inadequate hematopoietic stem cell transplantation services and the cost of therapy are other reasons for the same, particularly in those parts of the world which have a high prevalence of this condition. As a result <10% of eligible patients are actuallyable to avail this therapy. Other options for curative therapies are therefore needed. Recently, gene correction in autologous hematopoietic stem cells has been successfully established using lentiviral vectors, and several clinical trials have been initiated. A gene editing approach to correct the β globin mutation or disrupt BCL11A to increase fetal hemoglobin production has also been reported and is expected to be introduced in clinical trials soon. Curative possibilities for the major hemoglobin disorders are expanding. Providing access to these therapies around the world would be the challenge.
Blood. 2016 Sep 22;128(12):1555-61.
A randomized trial of amlodipine in addition to standard chelation therapy in patients with thalassemia major.
Fernandes JL1, Loggetto SR2, Veríssimo MP3, Fertrin KY4, Baldanzi GR5, Fioravante LA1, Tan DM6, Higa T7, Mashima DA8, Piga A9, Coelho OR4, Costa FF4, Saad ST4.
Cardiovascular disease resulting from iron accumulation is still a major cause of death in patients with thalassemia major (TM). Voltage-gated calcium-channel blockade prevents iron entry into cardiomyocytes and may provide an adjuvant treatment to chelation, reducing myocardial iron uptake. We evaluated whether addition of amlodipine to chelation strategies would reduce myocardial iron overload in TM patients compared with placebo. In a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 62 patients were allocated to receive oral amlodipine 5 mg/day or placebo in addition to their current chelation regimen. The main outcome was change in myocardial iron concentration (MIC) determined by magnetic resonance imaging at 12 months, with patients stratified into reduction or prevention groups according to their initial T2* below or above the normal human threshold of 35 ms (MIC, 0.59 mg/g dry weight). At 12 months, patients in the reduction group receiving amlodipine (n = 15) had a significant decrease in MIC compared with patients receiving placebo (n = 15) with a median of -0.26 mg/g (95% confidence interval, -1.02 to -0.01) vs 0.01 mg/g (95% confidence interval, -0.13 to 0.23), P = .02. No significant changes were observed in the prevention group (treatment-effect interaction with P = .005). The same findings were observed in the subgroup of patients with T2* <20 ms. Amlodipine treatment did not cause any serious adverse events. Thus, in TM patients with cardiac siderosis, amlodipine combined with chelation therapy reduced cardiac iron more effectively than chelation therapy alone. Because this conclusion is based on subgroup analyses, it needs to be confirmed in ad hoc clinical trials. This trial was registered at identifier as #NCT01395199.
Blood. 2016 Jul 14;128(2):265-76.
Minihepcidin peptides as disease modifiers in mice affected by β-thalassemia and polycythemia vera.
Casu C1, Oikonomidou PR1, Chen H2, Nandi V3, Ginzburg Y2, Prasad P4, Fleming RE5, Shah YM6, Valore EV7, Nemeth E7, Ganz T8, MacDonald B9, Rivella S10.
In β-thalassemia and polycythemia vera (PV), disordered erythropoiesis triggers severe pathophysiological manifestations. β-Thalassemia is characterized by ineffective erythropoiesis, reduced production of erythrocytes, anemia, and iron overload and PV by erythrocytosis and thrombosis. Minihepcidins are hepcidin agonists that have been previously shown to prevent iron overload in murine models of hemochromatosis and induce iron-restricted erythropoiesis at higher doses. Here, we show that in young Hbb(th3/+) mice, which serve as a model of untransfused β-thalassemia, minihepcidin ameliorates ineffective erythropoiesis, anemia, and iron overload. In older mice with untransfused β-thalassemia, minihepcidin improves erythropoiesis and does not alter the beneficial effect of the iron chelator deferiprone on iron overload. In PV mice that express the orthologous JAK2 mutation causing human PV, administration of minihepcidin significantly reduces splenomegaly and normalizes hematocrit levels. These studies indicate that drug-like minihepcidins have a potential as future therapeutics for untransfused β-thalassemia and PV.
Lancet. 2016 Jun 18;387(10037):2565-74.
Cardiovascular complications and risk of death in sickle-cell disease.
Gladwin MT1.
In sickle-cell disease, a point mutation in the β-globin chain causes haemoglobin to polymerise within erythrocytes during deoxygenation, altering red blood cell rheology and causing haemolysis. Improvements in health infrastructure, preventive care, and clinical treatments have reduced the morbidity and mortality of sickle-cell disease in developed countries. However, as these patients live longer, the chronic effects of sustained haemolytic anaemia and episodic vaso-occlusive events drive the development of end-organ complications. Cardiopulmonary organ dysfunction and chronic kidney injury have a large effect on morbidity and premature mortality, and typically accelerate in the second decade of life. These processes culminate in the development of pulmonary hypertension, left ventricular diastolic heart disease, dysrhythmia, and sudden death. In this Series paper, we review the mechanisms, clinical features, and epidemiology of major cardiovascular complications in patients with sickle-cell disease and discuss how screening and intervention could reduce their incidence.

Lancet. 2016 Feb 13;387(10019):661-70.
Hydroxycarbamide versus chronic transfusion for maintenance of transcranial doppler flow velocities in children with sickle cell anaemia-TCD With Transfusions Changing to Hydroxyurea (TWiTCH): a multicentre, open-label, phase 3, non-inferiority trial.
Ware RE1, Davis BR2, Schultz WH3, Brown RC4, Aygun B5, Sarnaik S6, Odame I7, Fuh B8, George A9, Owen W10, Luchtman-Jones L11, Rogers ZR12, Hilliard L13, Gauger C14, Piccone C15, Lee MT16, Kwiatkowski JL17, Jackson S18, Miller ST19, Roberts C20, Heeney MM21, Kalfa TA3, Nelson S22, Imran H23, Nottage K24, Alvarez O25, Rhodes M26, Thompson AA27, Rothman JA28, Helton KJ24, Roberts D18, Coleman J24, Bonner MJ28, Kutlar A29, Patel N29, Wood J30, Piller L2, Wei P2, Luden J18, Mortier NA3, Stuber SE3, Luban NL11, Cohen AR17, Pressel S2, Adams RJ18.
For children with sickle cell anaemia and high transcranial doppler (TCD) flow velocities, regular blood transfusions can effectively prevent primary stroke, but must be continued indefinitely. The efficacy of hydroxycarbamide (hydroxyurea) in this setting is unknown; we performed the TWiTCH trial to compare hydroxyurea with standard transfusions.
TWiTCH was a multicentre, phase 3, randomised, open-label, non-inferiority trial done at 26 paediatric hospitals and health centres in the USA and Canada. We enrolled children with sickle cell anaemia who were aged 4-16 years and had abnormal TCD flow velocities (≥ 200 cm/s) but no severe vasculopathy. After screening, eligible participants were randomly assigned 1:1 to continue standard transfusions (standard group) or hydroxycarbamide (alternative group). Randomisation was done at a central site, stratified by site with a block size of four, and an adaptive randomisation scheme was used to balance the covariates of baseline age and TCD velocity. The study was open-label, but TCD examinations were read centrally by observers masked to treatment assignment and previous TCD results. Participants assigned to standard treatment continued to receive monthly transfusions to maintain 30% sickle haemoglobin or lower, while those assigned to the alternative treatment started oral hydroxycarbamide at 20 mg/kg per day, which was escalated to each participant’s maximum tolerated dose. The treatment period lasted 24 months from randomisation. The primary study endpoint was the 24 month TCD velocity calculated from a general linear mixed model, with the non-inferiority margin set at 15 cm/s. The primary analysis was done in the intention-to-treat population and safety was assessed in all patients who received at least one dose of assigned treatment. This study is registered with, number NCT01425307.
Between Sept 20, 2011, and April 17, 2013, 159 patients consented and enrolled in TWiTCH. 121 participants passed screening and were then randomly assigned to treatment (61 to transfusions and 60 to hydroxycarbamide). At the first scheduled interim analysis, non-inferiority was shown and the sponsor terminated the study. Final model-based TCD velocities were 143 cm/s (95% CI 140-146) in children who received standard transfusions and 138 cm/s (135-142) in those who received hydroxycarbamide, with a difference of 4·54 (0·10-8·98). Non-inferiority (p=8·82 × 10(-16)) and post-hoc superiority (p=0·023) were met. Of 29 new neurological events adjudicated centrally by masked reviewers, no strokes were identified, but three transient ischaemic attacks occurred in each group. Magnetic resonance brain imaging and angiography (MRI and MRA) at exit showed no new cerebral infarcts in either treatment group, but worsened vasculopathy in one participant who received standard transfusions. 23 severe adverse events in nine (15%) patients were reported for hydroxycarbamide and ten serious adverse events in six (10%) patients were reported for standard transfusions. The most common serious adverse event in both groups was vaso-occlusive pain (11 events in five [8%] patients with hydroxycarbamide and three events in one [2%] patient for transfusions).
For high-risk children with sickle cell anaemia and abnormal TCD velocities who have received at least 1 year of transfusions, and have no MRA-defined severe vasculopathy, hydroxycarbamide treatment can substitute for chronic transfusions to maintain TCD velocities and help to prevent primary stroke.

Haematologica. 2015 Apr;100(4):452-7.
A genetic score for the prediction of beta-thalassemia severity.
Danjou F1, Francavilla M2, Anni F2, Satta S2, Demartis FR2, Perseu L3, Manca M3, Sollaino MC3, Manunza L2, Mereu E2, Marceddu G2, Pissard S4, Joly P5, Thuret I6, Origa R2, Borg J7, Forni GL8, Piga A9, Lai ME3, Badens C10, Moi P11, Galanello R11.
Clinical and hematologic characteristics of beta(β)-thalassemia are determined by several factors resulting in a wide spectrum of severity. Phenotype modulators are: HBB mutations, HBA defects and fetal hemoglobin production modulators (HBG2:g.-158C>T polymorphism, HBS1L-MYB intergenic region and the BCL11A). We characterized 54 genetic variants at these five loci robustly associated with the amelioration of beta-thalassemia phenotype, to build a predictive score of severity using a representative cohort of 890 β-thalassemic patients. Using Cox proportional hazard analysis on a training set, we assessed the effect of these loci on the age at which patient started regular transfusions, built a Thalassemia Severity Score, and validated it on a testing set. Discriminatory power of the model was high (C-index=0.705; R(2)=0.343) and the validation conducted on the testing set confirmed its predictive accuracy with transfusion-free survival probability (P<0.001) and with transfusion dependency status (Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristic Curve=0.774; P<0.001). Finally, an automatized on-line calculation of the score was made available at Besides the accurate assessment of genetic predictors effect, the present results could be helpful in the management of patients, both as a predictive score for screening and a standardized scale of severity to overcome the major-intermedia dichotomy and support clinical decisions.

N Engl J Med. 2014 Aug 21;371(8):699-710.
Controlled trial of transfusions for silent cerebral infarcts in sickle cell anemia.
DeBaun MR1, Gordon M, McKinstry RC, Noetzel MJ, White DA, Sarnaik SA, Meier ER, Howard TH, Majumdar S, Inusa BP, Telfer PT, Kirby-Allen M, McCavit TL, Kamdem A, Airewele G, Woods GM, Berman B, Panepinto JA, Fuh BR, Kwiatkowski JL, King AA, Fixler JM, Rhodes MM, Thompson AA, Heiny ME, Redding-Lallinger RC, Kirkham FJ, Dixon N, Gonzalez CE, Kalinyak KA, Quinn CT, Strouse JJ, Miller JP, Lehmann H, Kraut MA, Ball WS Jr, Hirtz D, Casella JF.
Silent cerebral infarcts are the most common neurologic injury in children with sickle cell anemia and are associated with the recurrence of an infarct (stroke or silent cerebral infarct). We tested the hypothesis that the incidence of the recurrence of an infarct would be lower among children who underwent regular blood-transfusion therapy than among those who received standard care.
In this randomized, single-blind clinical trial, we randomly assigned children with sickle cell anemia to receive regular blood transfusions (transfusion group) or standard care (observation group). Participants were between 5 and 15 years of age, with no history of stroke and with one or more silent cerebral infarcts on magnetic resonance imaging and a neurologic examination showing no abnormalities corresponding to these lesions. The primary end point was the recurrence of an infarct, defined as a stroke or a new or enlarged silent cerebral infarct.
A total of 196 children (mean age, 10 years) were randomly assigned to the observation or transfusion group and were followed for a median of 3 years. In the transfusion group, 6 of 99 children (6%) had an end-point event (1 had a stroke, and 5 had new or enlarged silent cerebral infarcts). In the observation group, 14 of 97 children (14%) had an end-point event (7 had strokes, and 7 had new or enlarged silent cerebral infarcts). The incidence of the primary end point in the transfusion and observation groups was 2.0 and 4.8 events, respectively, per 100 years at risk, corresponding to an incidence rate ratio of 0.41 (95% confidence interval, 0.12 to 0.99; P=0.04).
Regular blood-transfusion therapy significantly reduced the incidence of the recurrence of cerebral infarct in children with sickle cell anemia. (Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and others; Silent Cerebral Infarct Multi-Center Clinical Trial number, NCT00072761, and Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN52713285.).
Blood. 2014 May 15;123(20):3089-94; quiz 3210. doi: 10.1182/blood-2013-01-435776. Epub 2014 Feb 7.
Evidence-based focused review of the status of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation as treatment of sickle cell disease and thalassemia.
King A1, Shenoy S1.
Blood. 2014 Mar 6;123(10):1447-54.
A 1-year randomized controlled trial of deferasirox vs deferoxamine for myocardial iron removal in β-thalassemia major (CORDELIA).
Pennell DJ1, Porter JB, Piga A, Lai Y, El-Beshlawy A, Belhoul KM, Elalfy M, Yesilipek A, Kilinç Y, Lawniczek T, Habr D, Weisskopf M, Zhang Y, Aydinok Y; CORDELIA study investigators.
Randomized comparison data on the efficacy and safety of deferasirox for myocardial iron removal in transfusion dependent patients are lacking. CORDELIA was a prospective, randomized comparison of deferasirox (target dose 40 mg/kg per day) vs subcutaneous deferoxamine (50-60 mg/kg per day for 5-7 days/week) for myocardial iron removal in 197 β-thalassemia major patients with myocardial siderosis (T2* 6-20 milliseconds) and no signs of cardiac dysfunction (mean age, 19.8 years). Primary objective was to demonstrate noninferiority of deferasirox for myocardial iron removal, assessed by changes in myocardial T2* after 1 year using a per-protocol analysis. Geometric mean (Gmean) myocardial T2* improved with deferasirox from 11.2 milliseconds at baseline to 12.6 milliseconds at 1 year (Gmeans ratio, 1.12) and with deferoxamine (11.6 milliseconds to 12.3 milliseconds; Gmeans ratio, 1.07). The between-arm Gmeans ratio was 1.056 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.998, 1.133). The lower 95% CI boundary was greater than the prespecified margin of 0.9, establishing noninferiority of deferasirox vs deferoxamine (P = .057 for superiority of deferasirox). Left ventricular ejection fraction remained stable in both arms. Frequency of drug-related adverse events was comparable between deferasirox (35.4%) and deferoxamine (30.8%). CORDELIA demonstrated the noninferiority of deferasirox compared with deferoxamine for myocardial iron removal. This trial is registered at as #NCT00600938.
Haematologica. 2014 May;99(5):811-20. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2013.099747.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in thalassemia major and sickle cell disease: indications and management recommendations from an international expert panel.
Angelucci E1, Matthes-Martin S, Baronciani D, Bernaudin F, Bonanomi S, Cappellini MD, Dalle JH, Di Bartolomeo P, de Heredia CD, Dickerhoff R, Giardini C, Gluckman E, Hussein AA, Kamani N, Minkov M, Locatelli F, Rocha V, Sedlacek P, Smiers F, Thuret I, Yaniv I, Cavazzana M, Peters C; EBMT Inborn Error and EBMT Paediatric Working Parties.
Thalassemia major and sickle cell disease are the two most widely disseminated hereditary hemoglobinopathies in the world. The outlook for affected individuals has improved in recent years due to advances in medical management in the prevention and treatment of complications. However, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is still the only available curative option. The use of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has been increasing, and outcomes today have substantially improved compared with the past three decades. Current experience world-wide is that more than 90% of patients now survive hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and disease-free survival is around 80%. However, only a few controlled trials have been reported, and decisions on patient selection for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and transplant management remain principally dependent on data from retrospective analyses and on the clinical experience of the transplant centers. This consensus document from the European Blood and Marrow Transplantation Inborn Error Working Party and the Paediatric Diseases Working Party aims to report new data and provide consensus-based recommendations on indications for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and transplant management.

Haematologica. 2014 Mar;99(3):e38-40.
A decisional algorithm to start iron chelation in patients with beta thalassemia.
Danjou F1, Cabantchik ZI, Origa R, Moi P, Marcias M, Barella S, Defraia E, Dessì C, Foschini ML, Giagu N, Leoni GB, Morittu M, Galanello R.
Haematologica. 2013 Sep;98(9):1368-74.
International survey of T2* cardiovascular magnetic resonance in β-thalassemia major.
Carpenter JP1, Roughton M, Pennell DJ; Myocardial Iron in Thalassemia (MINT) Investigators.
Accumulation of myocardial iron is the cause of heart failure and early death in most transfused thalassemia major patients. T2* cardiovascular magnetic resonance provides calibrated, reproducible measurements of myocardial iron. However, there are few data regarding myocardial iron loading and its relation to outcome across the world. A survey is reported of 3,095 patients in 27 worldwide centers using T2* cardiovascular magnetic resonance. Data on baseline T2* and numbers of patients with symptoms of heart failure at first scan (defined as symptoms and signs of heart failure with objective evidence of left ventricular dysfunction) were requested together with more detailed information about patients who subsequently developed heart failure or died. At first scan, 20.6% had severe myocardial iron (T2*≤ 10 ms), 22.8% had moderate myocardial iron (T2* 10-20 ms) and 56.6% of patients had no iron loading (T2*>20 ms). There was significant geographical variation in myocardial iron loading (24.8-52.6%; P<0.001). At first scan, 85 (2.9%) of 2,915 patients were reported to have heart failure (81.2% had T2* <10 ms; 98.8% had T2* <20 ms). During follow up, 108 (3.8%) of 2,830 patients developed new heart failure. Of these, T2* at first scan had been less than 10 ms in 96.3% and less than 20 ms in 100%. There were 35 (1.1%) cardiac deaths. Of these patients, myocardial T2* at first scan had been less than 10 ms in 85.7% and less than 20 ms in 97.1%. Therefore, in this worldwide cohort of thalassemia major patients, over 43% had moderate/severe myocardial iron loading with significant geographical differences, and myocardial T2* values less than 10 ms were strongly associated with heart failure and death.

Lancet Glob Health. 2014 Feb;2(2):e80-9.
Global migration and the changing distribution of sickle haemoglobin: a quantitative study of temporal trends between 1960 and 2000.
Piel FB, Tatem AJ, Huang Z, Gupta S, Williams TN, Weatherall DJ.
Changes in the geographical distribution of genetic disorders are often thought to happen slowly, especially when compared with infectious diseases. Whereas mutations, genetic drift, and natural selection take place over many generations, epidemics can spread through large populations within a few days or weeks. Nevertheless, population movements can interfere with these processes, and few studies have been done of their eff ect on genetic disorders. We aimed to investigate the eff ect of global migration on the distribution of the sickle-cell gene-the most common and clinically significant haemoglobin structural variant.
For each country, we extracted data from the World Bank’s Global Bilateral Migration Database about international human migrations between 1960 and 2000. We combined this information with evidence-based estimates of national HbS allele frequencies, generated within a Bayesian geostatistical framework, to analyse temporal changes in the net numbers of migrants, and classified countries with an index summarising these temporal trends.
The number of international migrants increased from 92.6 million in 1960, to 165.2 million in 2000. The estimated global number of migrants with HbS increased from about 1.6 million in 1960, to 3.6 million in 2000. This increase was largely due to an increase in the number of migrants from countries with HbS allele frequencies higher than 10%, from 3.1 million in 1960, to 14.2 million in 2000. Additionally, the mean number of countries of origin for each destination country increased from 70 (SE 46) in 1960, to 98 (48) in 2000, showing an increasing diversity in the network of international migrations between countries. Our index of change map shows a patchy distribution of the magnitude of temporal changes, with the highest positive and negative values scattered across all continents.
Global human population movements have had a substantial eff ect on the distribution of the HbS gene. Population movements can create a long-term burden on health-care systems. Our findings, which emphasise countries in which migration fluxes are changing the most, should increase awareness about the global burden of haemoglobinopathies and encourage policy makers to implement specific public health interventions, such as screening programmes and genetic counselling.
Wellcome Trust, European Research Council, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-National Institutes of Health, the Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics program, Fogarty International Center.
Lancet. 2013 Jan 12;381(9861):142-51. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61229-X. Epub 2012 Oct 25.
Global epidemiology of sickle haemoglobin in neonates: a contemporary geostatistical model-based map and population estimates.
Piel FB1, Patil AP, Howes RE, Nyangiri OA, Gething PW, Dewi M, Temperley WH, Williams TN, Weatherall DJ, Hay SI.
Reliable estimates of populations affected by diseases are necessary to guide efficient allocation of public health resources. Sickle haemoglobin (HbS) is the most common and clinically significant haemoglobin structural variant, but no contemporary estimates exist of the global populations affected. Moreover, the precision of available national estimates of heterozygous (AS) and homozygous (SS) neonates is unknown. We aimed to provide evidence-based estimates at various scales, with uncertainty measures.
Using a database of sickle haemoglobin surveys, we created a contemporary global map of HbS allele frequency distribution within a Bayesian geostatistical model. The pairing of this map with demographic data enabled calculation of global, regional, and national estimates of the annual number of AS and SS neonates. Subnational estimates were also calculated in data-rich areas.
Our map shows subnational spatial heterogeneities and high allele frequencies across most of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and India, as well as gene flow following migrations to western Europe and the eastern coast of the Americas. Accounting for local heterogeneities and demographic factors, we estimated that the global number of neonates affected by HbS in 2010 included 5,476,000 (IQR 5,291,000-5,679,000) AS neonates and 312,000 (294,000-330,000) SS neonates. These global estimates are higher than previous conservative estimates. Important differences predicted at the national level are discussed.
HbS will have an increasing effect on public health systems. Our estimates can help countries and the international community gauge the need for appropriate diagnoses and genetic counselling to reduce the number of neonates affected. Similar mapping and modelling methods could be used for other inherited disorders.

Blood. 2012 Aug 2;120(5):970-7.
Deferasirox reduces iron overload significantly in nontransfusion-dependent thalassemia: 1-year results from a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Taher AT1, Porter J, Viprakasit V, Kattamis A, Chuncharunee S, Sutcharitchan P, Siritanaratkul N, Galanello R, Karakas Z, Lawniczek T, Ros J, Zhang Y, Habr D, Cappellini MD.
Nontransfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) patients may develop iron overload and its associated complications despite receiving only occasional or no transfusions. The present 1-year, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled THALASSA (Assessment of Exjade in Nontransfusion-Dependent Thalassemia) trial assessed the efficacy and safety of deferasirox in iron-overloaded NTDT patients. A total of 166 patients were randomized in a 2:1:2:1 ratio to starting doses of 5 or 10 mg/kg/d of deferasirox or placebo. The means ± SD of the actual deferasirox doses received over the duration of the study in the 5 and 10 mg/kg/d starting dose cohorts were 5.7 ± 1.4 and 11.5 ± 2.9 mg/kg/d, respectively. At 1 year, the liver iron concentration (LIC) decreased significantly compared with placebo (least-squares mean [LSM] ± SEM, -2.33 ± 0.7 mg Fe/g dry weight [dw], P = .001, and -4.18 ± 0.69 mg Fe/g dw, P < .001) for the 5 and 10 mg/kg/d deferasirox groups, respectively (baseline values [means ± SD], 13.11 ± 7.29 and 14.56 ± 7.92 mg Fe/g dw, respectively). Similarly, serum ferritin decreased significantly compared with placebo by LSM -235 and -337 ng/mL for the deferasirox 5 and 10 mg/kg/d groups, respectively (P < .001). In the placebo patients, LIC and serum ferritin increased from baseline by 0.38 mg Fe/g dw and 115 ng/mL (LSM), respectively. The most common drug-related adverse events were nausea (n = 11; 6.6%), rash (n = 8; 4.8%), and diarrhea (n = 6; 3.6%). This is the first randomized study showing that iron chelation with deferasirox significantly reduces iron overload in NTDT patients with a frequency of overall adverse events similar to placebo.

Blood. 2012 Mar 22;119(12):2746-53.
Chelation use and iron burden in North American and British thalassemia patients: a report from the Thalassemia Longitudinal Cohort.
Kwiatkowski JL1, Kim HY, Thompson AA, Quinn CT, Mueller BU, Odame I, Giardina PJ, Vichinsky EP, Boudreaux JM, Cohen AR, Porter JB, Coates T, Olivieri NF, Neufeld EJ; Thalassemia Clinical Research Network.
Morbidity and mortality in thalassemia are associated with iron burden. Recent advances in organ-specific iron imaging and the availability of oral deferasirox are expected to improve clinical care, but the extent of use of these resources and current chelation practices have not been well described. In the present study, we studied chelation use and the change in iron measurements in 327 subjects with transfusion-dependent thalassemia (mean entry age, 22.1 ± 2.5 years) from 2002-2011, with a mean follow-up of 8.0 years (range, 4.4-9.0 years). The predominant chelator currently used is deferasirox, followed by deferoxamine and then combination therapies. The use of both hepatic and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging increased more than 5-fold (P < .001) during the study period, leading to an 80% increase in the number of subjects undergoing liver iron concentration (LIC) measurements. Overall, LIC significantly improved (median, 10.7 to 5.1 mg/g dry weight, P < .001) with a nonsignificant improvement in cardiac T2* (median, 23.55 to 34.50 ms, P = .23). The percentage of patients with markers of inadequate chelation (ferritin > 2500 ng/mL, LIC > 15 mg/g dry weight, and/or cardiac T2* < 10 ms) also declined from 33% to 26%. In summary, increasing use of magnetic resonance imaging and oral chelation in thalassemia management has likely contributed to improved iron burden.

N Engl J Med. 2011 Jul 7;365(1):44-53.
A hemodynamic study of pulmonary hypertension in sickle cell disease.
Parent F1, Bachir D, Inamo J, Lionnet F, Driss F, Loko G, Habibi A, Bennani S, Savale L, Adnot S, Maitre B, Yaïci A, Hajji L, O’Callaghan DS, Clerson P, Girot R, Galacteros F, Simonneau G.
The prevalence and characteristics of pulmonary hypertension in adults with sickle cell disease have not been clearly established.
In this prospective study, we evaluated 398 outpatients with sickle cell disease (mean age, 34 years) at referral centers in France. All patients underwent Doppler echocardiography, with measurement of tricuspid-valve regurgitant jet velocity. Right heart catheterization was performed in 96 patients in whom pulmonary hypertension was suspected on the basis of a tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity of at least 2.5 m per second. Pulmonary hypertension was defined as a mean pulmonary arterial pressure of at least 25 mm Hg.
The prevalence of a tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity of at least 2.5 m per second was 27%. In contrast, the prevalence of pulmonary hypertension as confirmed on catheterization was 6%. The positive predictive value of echocardiography for the detection of pulmonary hypertension was 25%. Among the 24 patients with confirmed pulmonary hypertension, the pulmonary-capillary wedge pressure was 15 mm Hg or less (indicating precapillary pulmonary hypertension) in 11 patients. Patients with confirmed pulmonary hypertension were older and had poorer functional capacity and higher levels of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide than other patients. In contrast, patients who had a tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity of at least 2.5 m per second without pulmonary hypertension and patients with a tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity of less than 2.5 m per second had similar clinical characteristics.
In this study of adults with sickle cell disease, the prevalence of pulmonary hypertension as confirmed on right heart catheterization was 6%. Echocardiographic evaluation alone had a low positive predictive value for pulmonary hypertension. (Funded by the French Ministry of Health and Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris; number, NCT00434902.).

Circulation. 2011 Mar 22;123(11):1227-32.
Pulmonary hypertension associated with hemoglobinopathies: prevalent but overlooked.
Farmakis D, Aessopos A.
Circulation. 2011 Nov 15;124(20):2253-63.
Iron overload cardiomyopathy in clinical practice.
Kremastinos DT, Farmakis D.
Blood. 2011 Sep 29;118(13):3479-88.
How I treat thalassemia.
Rachmilewitz EA1, Giardina PJ.
The purpose of this article is to set forth our approach to diagnosing and managing the thalassemias, including β-thalassemia intermedia and β-thalassemia major. The article begins by briefly describing recent advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of thalassemia. In the discussion on diagnosing the condition, we cover the development of improved diagnostic tools, including the use of very small fetal DNA samples to detect single point mutations with great reliability for prenatal diagnosis of homozygous thalassemia. In our description of treatment strategies, we focus on how we deal with clinical manifestations and long-term complications using the most effective current treatment methods for β-thalassemia. The discussion of disease management focuses on our use of transfusion therapy and the newly developed oral iron chelators, deferiprone and deferasirox. We also deal with splenectomy and how we manage endocrinopathies and cardiac complications. In addition, we describe our use of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which has produced cure rates as high as 97%, and the use of cord blood transplantation. Finally, we briefly touch on therapies that might be effective in the near future, including new fetal hemoglobin inducers and gene therapy.

Blood. 2011 Jul 28;118(4):884-93.
Iron chelation with deferasirox in adult and pediatric patients with thalassemia major: efficacy and safety during 5 years’ follow-up.
Cappellini MD1, Bejaoui M, Agaoglu L, Canatan D, Capra M, Cohen A, Drelichman G, Economou M, Fattoum S, Kattamis A, Kilinc Y, Perrotta S, Piga A, Porter JB, Griffel L, Dong V, Clark J, Aydinok Y.
Patients with β-thalassemia require lifelong iron chelation therapy from early childhood to prevent complications associated with transfusional iron overload. To evaluate long-term efficacy and safety of once-daily oral iron chelation with deferasirox, patients aged ≥ 2 years who completed a 1-year, phase 3, randomized trial entered a 4-year extension study, either continuing on deferasirox (deferasirox cohort) or switching from deferoxamine to deferasirox (crossover cohort). Of 555 patients who received ≥ 1 deferasirox dose, 66.8% completed the study; 43 patients (7.7%) discontinued because of adverse events. In patients with ≥ 4 years’ deferasirox exposure who had liver biopsy, mean liver iron concentration significantly decreased by 7.8 ± 11.2 mg Fe/g dry weight (dw; n = 103; P < .001) and 3.1 ± 7.9 mg Fe/g dw (n = 68; P < .001) in the deferasirox and crossover cohorts, respectively. Median serum ferritin significantly decreased by 706 ng/mL (n = 196; P < .001) and 371 ng/mL (n = 147; P < .001), respectively, after ≥ 4 years’ exposure. Investigator-assessed, drug-related adverse events, including increased blood creatinine (11.2%), abdominal pain (9.0%), and nausea (7.4%), were generally mild to moderate, transient, and reduced in frequency over time. No adverse effect was observed on pediatric growth or adolescent sexual development. This first prospective study of long-term deferasirox use in pediatric and adult patients with β-thalassemia suggests treatment for ≤ 5 years is generally well tolerated and effectively reduces iron burden. This trial was registered at as #NCT00171210.

Haematologica. 2011 Apr;96(4):515-20.
Cardiac iron and cardiac disease in males and females with transfusion-dependent thalassemia major: a T2* magnetic resonance imaging study.
Marsella M1, Borgna-Pignatti C, Meloni A, Caldarelli V, Dell’Amico MC, Spasiano A, Pitrolo L, Cracolici E, Valeri G, Positano V, Lombardi M, Pepe A.
It has been repeatedly reported that female patients with thalassemia major survive longer than males and that the difference is due to a lower rate of cardiac disease in females.
We compared the cardiac iron load as measured by T2* magnetic resonance imaging in 776 patients (370 males) examined at the National Research Council as part of an Italian cooperative study. We also established normal left ventricular ejection fraction values for our population.
The prevalence of cardiac disease was higher in males than in females (105 males versus 69 females; P < 0.0001). Cardiac T2* was significantly lower in patients with heart dysfunction (P < 0.0001), but no difference was observed according to sex. Twenty males and five females had a history of cardiac arrhythmias. Their cardiac T2* was not significantly lower than that of patients without arrhythmias (24 ms versus 26 ms; P = 0.381), nor was there a difference between sexes. Liver T2* was significantly lower in males and females with heart dysfunction compared to those without. Ferritin levels were higher in patients of both sexes with heart dysfunction without significant differences between males and females. Conclusions Males and females are at the same risk of accumulating iron in their hearts, but females tolerate iron toxicity better, possibly as an effect of reduced sensitivity to chronic oxidative stress.

Haematologica. 2011 Jan;96(1):41-7.
Deferasirox, deferiprone and desferrioxamine treatment in thalassemia major patients: cardiac iron and function comparison determined by quantitative magnetic resonance imaging.
Pepe A1, Meloni A, Capra M, Cianciulli P, Prossomariti L, Malaventura C, Putti MC, Lippi A, Romeo MA, Bisconte MG, Filosa A, Caruso V, Quarta A, Pitrolo L, Missere M, Midiri M, Rossi G, Positano V, Lombardi M, Maggio A.
Oral deferiprone was suggested to be more effective than subcutaneous desferrioxamine for removing heart iron. Oral once-daily chelator deferasirox has recently been made commercially available but its long-term efficacy on cardiac iron and function has not yet been established. Our study aimed to compare the effectiveness of deferasirox, deferiprone and desferrioxamine on myocardial and liver iron concentrations and bi-ventricular function in thalassemia major patients by means of quantitative magnetic resonance imaging.
From the first 550 thalassemia subjects enrolled in the Myocardial Iron Overload in Thalassemia network, we retrospectively selected thalassemia major patients who had been receiving one chelator alone for longer than one year. We identified three groups of patients: 24 treated with deferasirox, 42 treated with deferiprone and 89 treated with desferrioxamine. Myocardial iron concentrations were measured by T2* multislice multiecho technique. Biventricular function parameters were quantitatively evaluated by cine images. Liver iron concentrations were measured by T2* multiecho technique.
The global heart T2* value was significantly higher in the deferiprone (34 ± 11 ms) than in the deferasirox (21 ± 12 ms) and the desferrioxamine groups (27 ± 11 ms) (P = 0.0001). We found higher left ventricular ejection fractions in the deferiprone and the desferrioxamine versus the deferasirox group (P = 0.010). Liver iron concentration, measured as T2* signal, was significantly lower in the desferrioxamine versus the deferiprone and the deferasirox group (P = 0.004).
The cohort of patients treated with oral deferiprone showed less myocardial iron burden and better global systolic ventricular function compared to the patients treated with oral deferasirox or subcutaneous desferrioxamine.