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1.  Nutritional Biomarkers in Children and Adolescents with Beta-Thalassemia-Major: An Egyptian Center Experience 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:261761.
Background and Aim. Trace elements and vitamins play a vital role in human body to perform its function properly. Thalassemic patients are at risk of micronutrient deficiency. This study estimated levels of vitamins A, C, E, B12, folic acid, total homocysteine (tHcy), and methylmalonic acid (MMA) along with trace elements, zinc, copper, and selenium in Beta-thalassemia-major patients. Methods. This study included 108 patients with Beta-thalassemia-major and 60 age and sex matched healthy children. Serum levels of vitamin A, E, C, tHcy, and MMA were estimated by high pressure liquid chromatography while serum levels of folic acid and B12 were estimated by thin layer chromatography. Serum zinc, copper, and selenium were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. Results. There was a significant decrease of vitamins A, C, E, and B12 and trace elements zinc, copper, and selenium in thalassemic patients as compared to controls. tHcy and MMA were significantly elevated in patients. No significant correlations were found between the serum levels of the studied vitamins and trace elements as regards age, frequency of transfusion, duration of transfusion, and serum ferritin. Conclusion. The level of various nutritional biomarkers (vitamins A, C, E, and B12 and trace elements zinc, copper, selenium) was reduced in chronically transfused Egyptian thalassemic patient. These patients should have periodic nutritional evaluation and supplementation. Multicenter studies are highly recommended.
PMCID: PMC4000941  PMID: 24812610
2.  Plasma Zinc Level in Hepatitis C Patients With or Without Beta Thalassemia Major; Is There Any Difference? 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(8):e11138.
Zinc deficiency has been reported frequently in hepatitis C patients in the literature. Furthermore, a decrease in zinc level has been shown in beta thalassemia major as well. Iranians consume a large amount of phytate in their regimens which can bind with zinc and decrease its gastrointestinal absorption.
This study was designed to determine plasma zinc level in an Iranian sample with the diagnosis of hepatitis C with or without concomitant beta thalassemia major.
Patients and Methods
Between April 2011 and April 2012, plasma zinc level was determined via atomic absorption method, in 130 hepatitis C patients with or without beta thalassemia major in a known referral center of hepatic diseases in Tehran, Iran.
Mean ± standard deviation (SD) of plasma zinc levels was determined as 0.78 ± 0.22 mg/L. Also zinc level was 0.76 ± 0.19 mg/L and 0.80 ± 0.24 mg/L in thalassemic and non thalassemic patients, respectively. T-test analysis showed that there is no significant difference between these two groups regarding plasma zinc level (P = 0.235).
It is concluded that zinc level of studied patients is less than which is reported in normal Iranian population. Moreover, there is not a significant difference in plasma zinc levels between thalassemic and non thalassemic patients and it seems to be a common problem in both ones. Addition of zinc supplement may be recommended in both groups in order to optimize the nutritional support and probably improve the treatment response.
PMCID: PMC3796196  PMID: 24130600
Zinc; Beta-Thalassemia; Hepatitis C; Iran
3.  Metabolic and endocrinologic complications in beta-thalassemia major: a multicenter study in Tehran 
The combination of transfusion and chelation therapy has dramatically extended the life expectancy of thalassemic patients. The main objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of prominent thalassemia complications.
Two hundred twenty patients entered the study. Physicians collected demographic and anthropometric data and the history of therapies as well as menstrual histories. Patients have been examined to determine their pubertal status. Serum levels of 25(OH) D, calcium, phosphate, iPTH were measured. Thyroid function was assessed by T3, T4 and TSH. Zinc and copper in serum were determined by flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Bone mineral density (BMD) measurements at lumbar and femoral regions have been done using dual x-ray absorptiometry. The dietary calcium, zinc and copper intakes were estimated by food-frequency questionnaires.
Short stature was seen in 39.3% of our patients. Hypogonadism was seen in 22.9% of boys and 12.2% of girls. Hypoparathyroidism and primary hypothyroidism was present in 7.6% and 7.7% of the patients. About 13 % of patients had more than one endocrine complication with mean serum ferritin of 1678 ± 955 micrograms/lit. Prevalence of lumbar osteoporosis and osteopenia were 50.7% and 39.4%. Femoral osteoporosis and osteopenia were present in 10.8% and 36.9% of the patients. Lumbar BMD abnormalities were associated with duration of chelation therapy. Low serum zinc and copper was observed in 79.6% and 68% of the study population respectively. Serum zinc showed significant association with lumbar but not femoral BMD. In 37.2% of patients serum levels of 25(OH) D below 23 nmol/l were detected.
High prevalence of complications among our thalassemics signifies the importance of more detailed studies along with therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC194672  PMID: 12914670
4.  Copper Status in Patients with Thalassemia Major in Zahedan, Iran 
There have been many reports and papers on deficient, normal and high levels of copper in patients with thalassemia major. The aim of this study is to evaluate copper status in a series of more than 300 patients with thalassemia major and determine the degree of copper deficiency or excess.
Three hundred and seventy patients with thalassemia major over 5 years of age were enrolled in this study. All patients were asked to fast for 12 hours before the test. Measurement was performed using atomic-absorption spectrophotometer in 2012 in southeast of Iran.
The study included both males (n = 192) and females (n = 141). Of whom, 90 (27%) were aged 5-10 yrs, 80 (24%) were aged 10-15 yrs and 49% were above 15 years of age. Iron chelation therapy was dessferroxamine, deferasirox and dessferroxamine and deferiprone combinations in 61.5 %( 204 cases), 24.2%( 82 cases) and 14.3%( 47 cases), respectively. Among the 370 cases, 107 (32.1%) had copper deficiency, 73 (21.9%) had copper excess and 153 (45.9%) had normal copper level.
High percentage of copper deficiency was documented in 333 patients with thalassemia major and about 50% of patients had normal copper level. This finding showed the importance of micronutrient measurement in thalassemic patients for treatment planning in every part of the world.
PMCID: PMC3913146  PMID: 24505531
Major thalassemia; Copper
5.  Growth hormone – insulin-like growth factor-I axis and bone mineral density in adults with thalassemia major 
Bone disease and short stature are frequent clinical features of patients with beta-thalassaemia major. Dysfunction of the GH-IGF-1 axis has been described in many thalassemics children and adolescents with short stature and reduced growth velocity. Assessment of the GH-IGF-1 axis in short adults with TM after attainment of final height may be required to select those who are candidates for replacement therapy and to prevent the development of bone disease. The aim of our study was to investigate GH secretion in adult thalassemic patients in relation to their bone mineral density (BMD) and serum ferritin concentrations.
Materials and Methods:
We performed clonidine stimulation test in 30 thalassemic patients (18 males, 12 females) with a mean age of 31.5± 7.2 years. The cut-off level for GH response was set at 7ug/l, according to the literature. Serum ferritin, IGF-I, liver enzymes, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and type 1 Collagen Carboxy Telopeptide (CCT1) were also determined.
We diagnosed GH deficiency (GHD) in 12 patients (40%) and IGF-I deficiency (IGF-I SDS <-2) was diagnosed in 20 patients (67%). Adult patients with TM had significantly decreased IGF-I concentrations and bone mineral density (BMD) at the femur neck and lumbar spine compared to normal controls. Thalassemic patients with GHD and IGF-I deficiency had significantly lower BMD T score at the lumbar spine compared to patients with normal GH and IGF-I levels. Thalassemic patients had higher serum CCT1 concentrations compared to normal controls. Peak GH levels were correlated significantly with IGF- I concentrations and IGF-I levels were correlated significantly with the height SDS (HtSDS) of thalassemic patients. Neither GH peak nor IGF-I concentrations were correlated to serum ferritin concentrations.
We conclude that GH status should be tested in adult thalassemic patients especially those with short stature and/or decreased BMD. Clonidine test appears to be effective and safe in adults with TM. If the diagnosis of adult GHD is established, GH treatment may be considered for possible improvement of bone mineral density and heart function in patients with TM.
PMCID: PMC3968729  PMID: 24701427
Bone mineral density; ferritin; GH deficiency GHD; insulin like growth factor –I; growth; growth hormone; prevalence; thalassemia
6.  Cortisol response to low dose versus standard dose (back-to-back) adrenocorticotrophic stimulation tests in children and young adults with thalassemia major 
Thalassemia major patients with repeated blood transfusion have high prevalence of endocrinopathies due to iron overload.
Materials and Methods:
We examined the adrenocortical function in 23 thalassemic patients (10 children and 13 young adults) aged 8-26 years. Serum cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) concentrations were determined in each subject before blood transfusion both in basal condition and after low dose (LD) (1 μg), followed by standard dose (SD) (250 μg, respectively) with synthetic corticotrophin beta 1-24 ACTH (Synacthen, Ciba). Normal controls were a group of 13 age- and sex-matched normal subjects.
Using a peak total cortisol cutoff level of 550 nmol/L and increments of 200 μg above basal cortisol, adrenal insufficiency (AI) was demonstrated in 8 patients (34.7%) after the LD ACTH and in 2 patients (8.7%) after SD cosyntropin (ACTH) test, but none of the controls. Using a peak total cortisol cutoff level of 420 nmol/L and increments of 200 μg above basal cortisol, AI was demonstrated in 5 patients (21.7%) after the LD ACTH and in 2 patients after SD ACTH test (8.7%), but none of controls. All patients with biochemical AI were asymptomatic with normal serum sodium and potassium concentrations and had no history suggestive of adrenal pathology. The peak cortisol concentrations in thalassemic patients with impaired adrenal function both after 1 μg and 250 μg cosyntropin (294 ± 51 nmol/L and 307 ± 58.6) were significantly lower than those with patients with normal (454 ± 79.7 nmol/L and 546.1 ± 92.2 nmol/L, respectively) and controls (460.2 ± 133.4 nmol/L and 554.3 ± 165.8 nmol/L, respectively). Adolescents and young adults, but not children with thalassaemia, had significantly lower peak cortisol concentration after SD ACTH versus controls. Peak cortisol response to LD ACTH was correlated significantly with peak cortisol response to SD in all patients (r = 0.83, P < 0.0001). In adolescents and young adults with thalassemia, DHEA-S levels before and after LD ACTH stimulation were significantly lower and the cortisol/DHEA-S ratios were significantly higher than the controls.
The use of LD ACTH test diagnoses more adrenal abnormalities versus SD ACTH in thalassemic patients. The relatively high prevalence of AI in thalassemic adolescents and young adults necessitates that these patients have to be investigated for AI before major surgery and those with impaired cortisol secretion should receive stress doses of corticosteroids during the stressful event.
PMCID: PMC3872683  PMID: 24381882
Cortisol; dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; low dose adrenocorticotropic hormone test; standard dose adrenocorticotropic hormone test; thalassemia
7.  Therapeutic Value of Combined Therapy with Deferasirox and Silymarin on Iron Overload in Children with Beta Thalassemia 
Beta thalassemia is an inherited hemoglobin disorder resulting in a severe, chronic anemia requiring life-long blood transfusion that induces iron overload. Silymarin is a flavonoid complex isolated from Silybin marianum with a strong antioxidant activity, inducing an hepatoprotective action, and probably, a protective effect on iron overload. The aim of this work was to determine the silymarin value in improving iron chelation in thalassemic patients with iron overload treated with Deferasirox.
Patients and Methods
This study was conducted on 40 children with beta thalassemia major under follow-up at Hematology Unit, Pediatric Department, Tanta University Hospital with serum ferritin level more than 1000 ng/ml and was divided into two groups. Group IA: Received oral Deferasirox (Exjade) and silymarin for 6 months. Group IB: Received oral Deferasirox (Exjade) and placebo for 6 months and 20 healthy children serving as a control group in the period between April 2011 and August 2012 and was performed after approval from research ethical committee center in Tanta University Hospital and obtaining an informed written parental consent from all participants in this study.
Serum ferritin levels were markedly decreased in group IA cases compared with group IB (P= 0.001).
From this study we concluded that, silymarin in combination with Exjade can be safely used in the treatment of iron-loaded thalassemic patients as it showed good iron chelation with no sign of toxicity.
We recommend extensive multicenter studies in a large number of patients with longer duration of follow-up and more advanced techniques of assessment of iron status in order to clarify the exact role of silymarin in reducing iron overload in children with beta thalassemia.
PMCID: PMC3867224  PMID: 24363880
8.  Determination of Hepatitis C Genotypes and the Viral Titer Distribution in Children and Adolescents with Major Thalassemia 
Iranian Journal of Pediatrics  2010;20(1):75-81.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an etiological agent responsible for occurrence of post-transfusion hepatitis in thalassemic patients. This study identified hepatitis C genotypes in pediatric and adolescent thalassemic patients and their correlation with age, blood transfusion, HCV RNA viral titer and liver function.
This study considers cross-sectional data from the Center for Thalassemia in Zahedan (Iran) carried out between August 2005 and September 2007. Twenty multitransfused patients suffering from β-thalassemia major and chronic HCV infection (13 males, 7 females) were included in the study. Patients were considered eligible for the study if they were seropositive for HCV RNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) before initiation of evaluation. Blood sample was taken for HCV genotype and viral titer as well as biochemical markers. Type specific primer and real-time RT-PCR HCV were used for determination of viral genotype and HCV-RNA titer.
There was a significant positive correlation between serum HCV RNA titer and genotypes (P<0001). Serum HCV RNA levels were found higher in genotype 3a than in others. The most prevalent genotype in thalassemic patients was genotype 3a (40%) followed by 1b (25%), unclassified (20%) and la (15%). There was no meaningful relationship between genotype, Alanine aminotranferease, ferritin and alkaline phosphatase. Age, serum HCV RNA titer and number of transfusions were the only significant factors associated with genotypes (P<015, P<0.0001 and P<0.001 respectively).
This study showed that HCV genotype and viral titer are related to the number of blood transfusions received by thalassemic patients. Screening donated blood in blood banks would prevent the occurrence of hepatitis C in this high-risk group.
PMCID: PMC3445996  PMID: 23056686
Hepatitis C; Virus Titer; Viral Load; Liver Function Tests; Thalassemia; Iran
9.  Thyroid function in major thalassemia patients: Is it related to height and chelation therapy?  
Background: One of the most common endocrine problems in major beta-thalassemia is hypothyroidism (HT). The aim of this study was to evaluate thyroid function status in major β-thalassemia patients older than 10 years old.
Methods: This cross sectional study was carried out on thalassemia major patients registered on Thalassemia Center of Amirkola Children Hospital in Babol. A questionnaire was filled out by the patients to evaluate the demographic information, quality of their last transfusions and chelation therapy. Growth parameters were evaluated. We assessed serum T4, TSH, T3RU and FTI in all patients and those with hypothyroidism, anti-thyroglobulin and anti-thyroid proxidase antibodies were checked
Results: One hundred-thirty patients (56 males and 74 females) were enrolled in this study. The mean age was 20.95±7.8 years. Short stature was seen in 41(31.3%) patients. In 53(40.8%) patients, weight was under normal range. HT was found in 19 patients (14.6%); 2 primary overt HT, 3 secondary HT and 14 subclinical HT were detected. No patient with HT had significant serum level of anti-thyroid antibodies. Correlation between HT and serum ferritin level was not significant (p=0.584) but it was significant for HT and short statures (p=0.002), also regular transfusion and chelation therapy were correlated with ferritin level.
Conclusion: High prevalence of HT among thalassemic patients signifies the importance of regular screening for evaluation of endocrine function in these patients; especially when short stature is present.
PMCID: PMC3766932  PMID: 24024013
Major thalassemia; Hypothyroidism; Serum ferritin
10.  Study of the effect of iron overload on the function of endocrine glands in male thalassemia patients 
Iron overload is an important issue in the state of thalassemic patients due to the harmful effect of high concentration of iron deposited in different tissues in human body including endocrine glands. In the present work, an attempt is carried out to estimate the effect of iron overload in thalassemic patients on the function of endocrine glands through the estimation of their ability to secrete adequate amounts of certain hormones.
Materials and Methods:
Seventy eight male children with beta-thalassemia, in the age-group of 4–11 years, were enrolled for this research. These children were being treated with frequent transfusions and long-term iron chelation therapy. Thirty age and sex matched children without thalassemia constituted the control group. Ferritin and different hormones were estimated by ELISA technique.
The results showed a mild reduction in the function of endocrine glands through the decrease in the level of some hormones. These changes due mainly to the hypoxia and precipitation of iron in certain glands and overlapping with the synthesis or secretion of the hormones.
There is a different hormonal disturbances in beta thalassemia patients. Reduction of total body iron store is an important goal of the treatment of thalassemia and measuring the hormones concentration is necessary for the follow up of the thalassemic patients especially during puberty.
PMCID: PMC3159240  PMID: 21897589
Glands; hormones; iron overload; thalassemia
11.  Study of behavioral problems in multi-transfused thalassemic children 
Indian Journal of Psychiatry  2012;54(4):333-336.
Beta-thalassemia major is a chronic disorder of blood, having an extensive impact on the affected child. It involves lifelong therapeutic regime, with repeated blood transfusions. With improved life expectancy, due to improved medical management psychosocial aspects of thalassemia are gaining importance.
To assess the behavioral problems in multi-transfused thalassemic children and psychosocial factors affecting them.
The study was conducted in a tertiary care level hospital and research institute catering mainly to a population of low socioeconomic status.
The study was a cross-sectional study involving 50 multi-transfused thalassemic children of age 5–10 years.
Materials and Methods:
Fifty multi-transfused thalassemic children, aged 5–10 years, not suffering from any other major medical illness, were included. Child Behavior Check List (Achenbach) (CBCL) was used to collect data from each parent regarding the child's behavior. Parental Attitude Scale (Rangaswamy 1989) was applied. Descriptive statistical analysis was used with analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Student's t test to find the significance of data.
The CBCL total scores were high in 32% patients, indicating the presence of behavioral problems. Higher CBCL scores were found in children of older age group, those with poor school performance, whose mothers’ education was more than eighth standard, had history of death of thalassemic relative in family, greater duration of diagnosed illness, poor pre-transfusion hemoglobin level, and who had longer periods of school absenteeism.
Behavioral problems are common in multi-transfused thalassemic children. Early diagnosis and intervention of behavioral problems in these children would make them cope with thalassemia better.
PMCID: PMC3554964  PMID: 23372235
Behavioral problems; child behavior check list; multi-transfused thalassemia
12.  The Benefits of vitamin E on liver function and the hemopoietic System in thalassemia Patients 
β−Thalassemic children have oxidative stress and antioxidant deficiency even without iron overload status. In these patients, tissue damage due to oxidative stress may be occurred. Also, it seems that thalassemic patients have higher levels of ALT, AST therefore, the main aim of the present study was to determine the benefits of vitamin E as an antioxidant supplements in β-Thalassemia children.
Materials and Methods
This clinical trial was carried out on 45 beta-thalassemic patients undergoing occasional transfusions (24 males, 21 females), mean age 16± 8 years, admitted to Yazd and Shahid Sadoughi hospital in 2011. Fallowing three months treatment of vitaminE (vitamin E 400-600 unit/day),liver function test and hemopoitic system parameters were measured.
Fourty five patients with laboratory confirmation of β-Thalassemia were recruited following three months vitamin E supplementation, liver function test had higher improvement compared to hemopoitic system parameters , and also serum SGOT was significantly reduced (P-value<0.004 ).
It seems clear that treatments of β-thalassemic patients with vitamins E have benefits in promoting antioxidant status and may improve liver function test, as AST and ALT to decrease but this supplement is not effective for hemopoietic system variables.
PMCID: PMC3915432  PMID: 24575256
Vitamin E; Hemopoietic System; Liver Function Tests
13.  Glucose homeostasis in Egyptian children and adolescents with β-Thalassemia major: Relationship to oxidative stress 
Oxidative stress in children with β-thalassemia may contribute to shortened life span of erythrocytes and endocrinal abnormalities.
This study was aimed to evaluate glucose homeostasis in Egyptian children and adolescents with β-thalassemia major and its relation to oxidative stress.
Materials and Methods:
Sixty children and adolescents with β-thalassemia major were studied in comparison to 30 healthy age and sex-matched subjects. Detailed medical history, thorough clinical examination, and laboratory assessment of oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), serum ferritin, alanine transferase (ALT), fasting insulin levels, plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) as oxidant marker and serum total antioxidants capacity (TAC) were performed. Patients were divided into two groups according to the presence of abnormal OGTT.
The prevalence of diabetes was 5% (3 of 60) and impaired glucose tolerance test (IGT) was 8% (5 of 60). Fasting blood glucose, 2-hour post-load plasma glucose, serum ferritin, ALT, fasting insulin level, homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR) and MDA levels were significantly elevated while TAC level was significantly decreased in thalassemic patients compared with healthy controls (P < 0.001 for each). The difference was more evident in patients with abnormal OGTT than those with normal oral glucose tolerance (P < 0.001 for each). We also observed that thalassemic patients not receiving or on irregular chelation therapy had significantly higher fasting, 2-h post-load plasma glucose, serum ferritin, ALT, fasting insulin, HOMA-IR, oxidative stress markers OSI and MDA levels and significantly lower TAC compared with either those on regular chelation or controls. HOMA-IR was positively correlated with age, serum ferritin, ALT, MDA, and negatively correlated with TAC.
The development of abnormal glucose tolerance in Egyptian children and adolescents with β--thalassemia is associated with alteration in oxidant-antioxidant status and increase in insulin resistance.
1- Glucose tolerance tests, HOMA-IR, and MDA should be an integral part of the long-term follow-up of children and adolescents with β-thalassemia major. 2- Regular iron chelation and antioxidant therapy should be advised for thalassemic patients to improve glucose hemostasis.
PMCID: PMC4056131  PMID: 24944927
β-thalassemic major; diabetes mellitus; insulin resistance; oxidative stress
14.  Gradient-echo magnetic resonance imaging study of pancreatic iron overload in young Egyptian beta-thalassemia major patients and effect of splenectomy 
Thalassemic patients suffer from diabetes mellitus secondary to hemosiderosis.
The study aimed to evaluate pancreatic iron overload by T2*-weighted Gradient-echo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in young beta-thalassemia major patients and to correlate it with glucose disturbances, hepatic hemosiderosis, serum ferritin and splenectomy.
Forty thalassemic patients (20 non diabetic, 10 diabetic, and 10 with impaired glucose tolerance) were recruited from Pediatric Hematology Clinic, in addition to 20 healthy controls. All patients underwent clinical assessment and laboratory investigations included complete blood count, liver function tests, serum ferritin and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). A T2*-weighted gradient-echo sequence MRI was performed with 1.5 T scanner and signal intensity ratio (SIR) of the liver and the pancreas to noise were calculated.
Significant reduction in signal intensity ratio (SIR) of the liver and the pancreas was shown in thalassemic patients compared to controls (P < 0.0001), Thalassemic patients with abnormal glucose tolerance; including diabetics and thalassemics with impaired glucose tolerance; displayed a higher degree of pancreatic and hepatic siderosis compared to thalassemics with normal glucose tolerance or controls (P < 0.001, P < 0.0001). Splenectomized thalassemic patients had significantly lower SIR of pancreas compared to non splenectomized patients (P < 0.05). A strong correlation was present between hepatic and pancreatic siderosis in studied patients (P < 0.001).
pancreatic siderosis can be detected by T2* gradient-echo MRI since childhood in thalassemic patients, and is more evident in patients with abnormal glucose tolerance. After splenectomy, iron deposition may be accelerated in the pancreas. Follow up of thalassemic patients using pancreatic MRI together with intensive chelation therapy may help to prevent the development of overt diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2873247  PMID: 20398341
15.  Longitudinal Study on Liver Functions in Patients with Thalassemia Major before and after Deferasirox (DFX) Therapy 
By performing regular blood transfusion and iron chelation therapy, most patients with beta thalassemia major (BTM) now survive beyond the third decade of life. Liver disease is becoming an important cause of morbidity and mortality in these patients. Chronic hepatitis and/or severe iron overload are both important causes of liver pathology. Iron chelation with desferrioxamine (DFO) reduces excessive body iron, but its efficacy is limited by poor compliance and dose related toxicity. The recent use of Deferasirox ( DFX ), an oral single dose therapy, has improved the compliance to chelation.
To study the long-term liver functions in BMT patients, seronegative for liver infections before versus after DFX treatment in relation to ferritin level.
Only BTM patients with hepatitis negative screening (checked every year) and on treatment with DFO for at least five years and with DFX for four years were enrolled. Liver function tests including serum bilirubin, alanine transferase (ALT), aspartate transferase (AST), albumin, insulin-like growth factor – I (IGF-I) and serum ferritin concentrations were followed every six months in 40 patients with BTM.
DFX treatment (20 mg/kg/day) significantly decreased serum ferritin level in patients with BTM; this was associated with a significant decrease in serum ALT, AST, ALP and increase in IGF-I concentrations. Albumin concentrations did not change after DFX treatment. ALT and AST levels were correlated significantly with serum ferritin concentrations ( r = 0.45 and 0.33 respectively, p < 0.05). IGF-I concentrations were correlated significantly with serum ALT (r= 0.26, p = 0.05) but not with AST, ALP, bilirubin or albumin levels.
The negative correlation between serum ferritin concentrations and ALT suggests that the impairment of hepatic function negatively affect IGF-I synthesis in these patients due to iron toxicity, even in the absence of hepatitis.
Some impairment of liver function can occur in hepatitis negative thalassemic patients with iron overload. The use of DFX was associated with mild but significant reduction of ALT, AST and ALP and increase in IGF-I levels. The negative correlation between IGF-I and ALT concentrations suggest that preventing hepatic dysfunction may improve the growth potential in these patients.
PMCID: PMC4010606  PMID: 24803998
16.  Wilson's disease: assessment of D-penicillamine treatment. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1985;60(7):652-655.
Serum copper and zinc concentrations and 24 hour urinary copper and zinc excretion were determined serially from the beginning of treatment with D-penicillamine in four children with Wilson's disease. The data show a progressive decrease in both serum copper and zinc concentrations in all. Urinary copper excretion gradually levelled off to approximately 50% of initial values, but zinc excretion increased. Urinary zinc:copper ratios therefore increased with the duration of treatment. Copper elimination was considered adequate as soon as challenge with a test dose of D-penicillamine did not result in an increase in copper excretion. Urinary zinc excretion was increased further by the test dose. Zinc depletion was suspected clinically in one patient on D-penicillamine maintenance treatment. Lowering the dose alleviated the symptoms, urinary zinc loss decreased from 64 to 34 mumol/24 hours, and copper excretion remained largely unchanged. Data obtained indicate that D-penicillamine alters the metabolism of both copper and zinc. The extent of this is not only dose dependent but is also related to the efficacy of copper elimination. Both copper and zinc concentrations must by monitored to assess the benefits of treatment and the risks of inducing manifest or subclinical zinc deficiency.
PMCID: PMC1777273  PMID: 4026361
17.  Conservative management of Beta-thalassemia major cases in the sub-division level hospital of rural West Bengal, India 
The ideal management of thalassemia involves a multidisciplinary therapeutic team approach and should be preferably done at a comprehensive thalassemia care center with all sorts of specialists and the backup of a well-equipped blood bank. However, in developing country like ours, these facilities are not available in rural set up. So, a situation where conservative therapy with regular blood transfusion is the only choice left to innumerable thalassemic children.
To evaluate the existing conservative management protocol of Beta-thalassemia major patients in the setup of a subdivision level Government Hospital of rural West Bengal, India.
Materials and Methods:
The study was performed between December 2009 and December 2011. Beta-thalassemia major patients, registered in blood bank for moderate transfusion regimen, were taken in study. All the patients were screened for Transfusion Transmittable Infections at the time of registration and thereafter periodically every six months. Iron chelation therapy was given simultaneously with transfusion at a dose of 20 to 40 mg/kg/day for six days. The patients were advised to follow up with chelation therapy at home by daily infusion with a goal of maintaining serum ferritin level below 1000 ng/ml. Over this long period of study, the patients were periodically evaluated for complications.
The average blood requirement (ml/kg/year) in 1-5 years, 6-10 years, and 11-15 years were 110, 150, and 180, respectively. Incidence of Hepatitis C Virus infection in 1-5 years and 6-10 years were 1.75% and 2.08%, respectively. It is well seen that serum ferritin level increase with ascending age as does the blood consumption.
Conservative management may be the best alternative and at times the only hope for patients in developing country like ours. However, in order to decrease the disease load, steps need to be taken to introduce preventive measures.
PMCID: PMC3633258  PMID: 23633844
Beta-thalassemia major; blood transfusion; conservative management; iron chelation; prevention program
18.  Spectrum of Beta Globin Gene Mutations in Egyptian Children with β-Thalassemia 
The molecular defects resulting in a β-thalassemia phenotype, in the Egyptian population, show a clear heterogenic mutations pattern. PCR-based techniques, including direct DNA sequencing are effective on the molecular detection and characterization of these mutations. The molecular characterization of β-thalassemia is necessary for carrier screening, genetic counseling, and to offer prenatal diagnosis.
The aim of the work
was to evaluate the different β-globin gene mutations in two hundred β-thalassemic Egyptian children.
Subjects and Methods
This study was carried out on two hundred β-thalassemic Egyptian children covering most Egyptian Governorates including 158 (79%) children with thalassemia major (TM) and 42 (21%) children with thalassemia intermedia(TI). All patients were subjected to meticulous history taking, clinical examination, complete blood count, hemoglobin electrophoresis, serum ferritin and direct fluorescent DNA sequencing of the β-globin gene to detect the frequency of different mutations.
The most common mutations among patients were IVS I-110(G>A) 48%, IVS I-6(T>C) 40%, IVS I-1(G>A) 24%, IVS I-5(G>C)10%, IVS II-848 (C>A) 9%, IVS II-745(C>G) 8%, IVS II-1(G>A) 7%, codon “Cd”39(C> T) 4%, −87(C>G) 3% and the rare mutations were: Cd37 (G>A), Cd8 (−AA), Cd29(−G), Cd5 (−CT), Cd6(−A), Cd8/9(+G), Cd 106/107(+G), Cd27(C>T), IVS II-16(G> C), Cd 28 (−C), Cap+1(A>C), −88(C>A), all of these rare mutations were present in 1%. There was a considerable variation in phenotypic severity among patients resulting from the interaction of different β∘ and β+mutations. Furthermore, no genotype-phenotype association was found both among the cases with thalassemia major and the cases with thalassemia intermedia.
Direct DNA sequencing provides insights for the frequency of different mutations in patients with β-thalassemia including rare and/or unknown ones. The most common mutations in Egyptian children with beta thalassemia were IVS I-110(G>A) 48%, IVS I-6(T>C) 40%, IVS I-1(G>A)24%, IVS I-5(G>C)10%, IVS II-848 (C>A) 9%, IVS II-745(C>G) 8%, IVS II-1(G>A) 7%.
PMCID: PMC4235483  PMID: 25408857
19.  Oxidative stress and disturbance in antioxidant balance in beta thalassemia major 
Repeated blood transfusion in beta thalassemia major patients may lead to peroxidative tissue injury by secondary iron overload. In the present study, 72 children with beta thalassemia major were included. Serum levels of total lipid peroxides, Iron, Total Iron Binding Capacity, Copper, Zinc, Vitamin E, plasma Total Antioxidant Capacity, activity of Erythrocyte Superoxide Dismutase, were measured. The findings were compared with 72 age matched healthy controls irrespective of sex. A significant increase in the levels of lipid peroxide and Iron (p<0.001), whereas, significant decrease in the levels of vitamin-E, Total Antioxidant Capacity and Total Iron Binding Capacity (p<0.001) was observed. Serum Zinc was significantly increased (p<0.001) with significant decrease in the levels of copper (p<0.001). Non Significant increase in the activity of Erythrocyte Superoxide Dismutase (p>0.05) was found in the patients when compared with controls. This suggest that oxidative stress and reduced antioxidant defense mechanism play an important role in pathogenesis of beta thalassemia major.
PMCID: PMC3453139  PMID: 23105782
Beta thalassemia major; Oxidative stress; Antioxidants
20.  Thalassemia Major in Adults: Short Stature, Hyperpigmentation, Inadequate Chelation, and Transfusion-Transmitted Infections are Key Features 
Effective transfusion and chelation have prolonged the quality and longevity of life in thalassemics, who now survive into adulthood. Hence, adult physicians need to be aware of their clinical and laboratory profile and the problems faced by them.
The present study was aimed to evaluate the clinical profile of adult thalassemics.
Materials and Methods:
Adult (>18 years) thalassemia major patients (n=19) were evaluated clinically and fasting pretransfusion blood samples were analyzed for complete blood counts, kidney and liver function tests, plasma glucose, serum ferritin, and thyroid hormone levels.
Average age was 21.65±2.47 years (range 19–28 years), 42.1% had Body mass index (BMI) <18.5. Splenectomy had been performed in 47.4% before reaching adulthood, males significantly outnumbered females (72% vs. 12.5%). Hemoglobin levels <8 g/dl were observed in 31.6% and none had serum ferritin levels in the recommended range suggesting inadequacy of both transfusion and chelation. Indirect hyperbilirubinemia was observed in 21.1% patients although kidney functions, serum protein, and albumin were normal in all patients. Electrocardiographic abnormalities, diabetes mellitus or hypothyroidism were absent. Five patients (26.3%) had contracted transfusion-transmitted viral infections – 21.1% and 5.3% respectively had antibodies to hepatitis C virus and HIV, while 5.3% were positive for Australia antigen. All patients were receiving chelation therapy – deferiprone alone (78.9%) or along with desferrioxamine (21.1%). Average dose of deferiprone being used was 95±8 mg/kg.
Adult thalassemia major patients present with a distinct clinical profile having low BMI, generalized hyperpigmentation, most are splenectomized, have low hemoglobin, inadequate chelation and harbor transfusion-transmitted infections. Adult physician needs to be aware of this profile.
PMCID: PMC3309622  PMID: 22454828
Adult; Chelation; Thalassemia major; Transfusion
21.  Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Children with Thalassemia Major 
The β-Thalassemia syndromes are the most common hereditary chronic hemolytic anemia due to impaired globin chain synthesis. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays several roles in angiogenesis which is a crucial process in the pathogenesis of several inflammatory, autoimmune and malignant diseases. Endothelial damage and inflammation make a significant contribution to the pathophysiology of β-thalassemia.
: The aim of the study was to assess serum VEGF level in children with beta-thalassemia major as a marker of angiogenesis.
A total of 50 children entered the study, 40 patients with thalassemia major and 10 healthy controls. We used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for quantitative evaluation of VEGF.
VEGF level was significantly higher in patients with β-thalassemia major than healthy controls (p=0.001). VEGF level was also higher in splenectomised thalassemic patients than non splenectomised ones (p=0.001). There were a positive correlation between VEGF and chelation starting age (p=0.008), and a negative correlation between VEGF and frequency of blood transfusion (p=0.002).
Thalassemia patients, especially splenectomized, have elevated serum levels of VEGF. Early chelation and regular blood transfusion help to decrease serum VEGF and the risk of angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3684348  PMID: 23795282
22.  Associations between Serum C-reactive Protein and Serum Zinc, Ferritin, and Copper in Guatemalan School Children 
Biological trace element research  2012;148(2):154-160.
Inflammation affects trace nutrient concentrations, but research on copper and particularly in children is limited. We assessed associations between serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and zinc, iron, copper, and other biomarkers (alkaline phosphatase, hemoglobin, and albumin), in 634 healthy 6- to 11-year-old Guatemalan schoolchildren. CRP was measured by a standardized, high-sensitive method. For significant associations with CRP, we stratified nutrient concentrations across categories of CRP and compared concentrations above and below several CRP cutoff points (0.5, 1, 3, 5, and 10 mg/L), and then adjusted values using correction factors (ratios of geometric means of the nutrients in the low and high groups). Prevalence of serum zinc (<65 μg/dL0, ferritin (<15 μg/L), and copper (<90 μg/dL) deficiency were 21%, 2.1%, and 23.8%, respectively. Median (25th and 75th percentiles) CRP was 0.56 (0.26 and 1.54) mg/L. CRP concentration was positively associated with ferritin and copper concentrations (r=0.23 and 0.29, respectively; P<0.0001) but not with zinc and other bio-markers (P>0.05). Regardless of CRP cutoffs, high (> cutoff) vs. low (≤ cutoff) CRP levels had higher ferritin and copper concentrations and lower prevalence of copper deficiency of <90 μg/dL (P<0.05). Adjustment for inflammation had the greatest influence on recalculated prevalence for the CRP 0.5 mg/L cutoff. The low ferritin prevalence hardly changed (from 2.1% to 2.5%) while the low copper prevalence changed appreciably (from 23.8% to 31.2%). In conclusion, CRP was positively associated with ferritin and copper but not with zinc concentrations. Adjustment for inflammation had little effect on low ferritin prevalence, low to begin with, and a large impact on low copper prevalence. High-sensitive CRP methods and the use of very low CRP cutoffs may be more accurate than traditional CRP methods in the adjustment of serum copper concentrations for inflammation in healthy school children.
PMCID: PMC3734531  PMID: 22354676
Inflammation; C-reactive protein; School children; Ferritin; Zinc; Copper
23.  Correlation of Oxidative Stress with Serum Trace Element Levels and Antioxidant Enzyme Status in Beta Thalassemia Major Patients: A Review of the Literature 
Anemia  2012;2012:270923.
Beta thalassemia major is an inherited disease resulting from reduction or total lack of beta globin chains. Patients with this disease need repeated blood transfusion for survival. This may cause oxidative stress and tissue injury due to iron overload, altered antioxidant enzymes, and other essential trace element levels. The aim of this review is to scrutinize the relationship between oxidative stress and serum trace elements, degree of damage caused by oxidative stress, and the role of antioxidant enzymes in beta thalassemia major patients. The findings indicate that oxidative stress in patients with beta thalassemia major is mainly caused by tissue injury due to over production of free radical by secondary iron overload, alteration in serum trace elements and antioxidant enzymes level. The role of trace elements like selenium, copper, iron, and zinc in beta thalassemia major patients reveals a significant change of these trace elements. Studies published on the status of antioxidant enzymes like catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and glutathione S-transferase in beta thalassemia patients also showed variable results. The administration of selective antioxidants along with essential trace elements and minerals to reduce the extent of oxidative damage and related complications in beta thalassemia major still need further evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3357501  PMID: 22645668
24.  Increased serum concentrations of tumour necrosis factor in beta thalassaemia: effect of bone marrow transplantation. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1992;45(1):61-65.
AIMS: Serum concentrations of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) were determined in beta thalassemic patients before and after bone marrow transplantation (BMT) to evaluate whether changes in TNF concentrations after BMT were related to immune mediated complications. METHODS: Serum TNF concentrations were determined by enzyme linked immunoassay (EIA) in paired samples from 71 patients with beta thalassemia before and after BMT. Serial samples from 13 patients were also studied for up to six months after BMT. Forty one normal healthy children matched for sex and age were studied as controls. RESULTS: beta thalassemic patients had high serum TNF concentrations before transplantation compared with controls. These were not related to sex, age, duration of disease, number of blood transfusions, transferrin concentrations or splenectomy. DQw1 positive patients showed significantly lower TNF concentrations than non-DQw1 cases. Patients with severe liver fibrosis had significantly higher TNF concentrations. No correlation was found between TNF values and BMT outcome before transplantation but TNF alpha values fell significantly after BMT. The decrease persisted only in patients with successful engraftment. In serial samples studied for up to six months after BMT, TNF values decreased but in four out of five patients with graft rejection and in all five with acute graft versus host disease (GVHD) sharp increases occurred at the time of clinical symptoms. No correlation was found between the degree of GVHD and serum TNF-alpha concentrations nor between TNF-alpha concentrations after BMT and the presence of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. CONCLUSIONS: About 50% of beta thalassemic patients have increased serum TNF, and the changes after BMT are related to the occurrence of immune mediate complications. The persistence of low TNF concentrations after successful engraftment may be due to the preparative regimen and the lack of adverse immune reactions.
PMCID: PMC495819  PMID: 1740519
25.  Total Antioxidant Status in Patients with Major β-Thalassemia 
Iranian Journal of Pediatrics  2011;21(2):159-165.
Beta-thalassemia major is an autosomal recessive disease causing severe and hemolytic anemia, which begins about 2-6 months after birth. Iron overload, which arises from recurrent transfusion and ineffective erythropoiesis, can enhance oxidative stress in thalassemic patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the serum total antioxidant capacity of patients with ß-Thalassemia major.
Sixty six Iranian patients with β-thalassemia major and 66 age-gender matched controls were evaluated for serum total antioxidant status (TAS), uric acid (UA), bilirubin and albumin. In addition, serum ferritin and transaminases were recorded in these subjects.
Significant increases of TAS, UA, and bilirubin were observed in the patient group, compared with the control group (P<0.01). Mean TAS and bilirubin in male patients was higher than in females (P=0.005 and P=0.008, respectively). There was also direct correlation between TAS and albumin (P<0.001), bilirubin (P<0.001) and UA (P=0.002).
Endogenous antioxidants such as ferritin, UA and bilirubin can result in increased level of TAS in the patients with Beta-thalassemia major. Compensatory excess of TAS to oxidative stress could also be the reason for difference between our findings and previous studies.
PMCID: PMC3446157  PMID: 23056782
β-Thalassemia Major; Oxidative Stress; Antioxidants; Ferritin; Uric Acid

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