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1.  Major Causes of Hospital Admission in Beta Thalassemia Major Patients in Southern Iran 
Iranian Journal of Pediatrics  2011;21(4):509-513.
Beta thalassemia major is a prevalent hereditary disease in Mediterranean region especially Iran. Early blood transfusion is necessary for most of the patients and frequent transfusion can cause various medical problems for the patients. The aim of this study was to find major causes of hospital admission in beta thalassemia major patients to reach the accurate preventive and therapeutic plans for these patients.
Four hundred twenty six patients were admitted to the Nemazee Hospital (the main University referral Hospital Center affiliated to Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Fars Province, southern Iran) during 3 years period (January 2007 to January 2010). A questionnaire was filled containing age, gender, hemoglobin level, frequency of blood transfusions, deferoxamine injection, cause of hospital admission and hospital course.
The mean age of patients was 11.28 years. The mean serum ferritin level was 1820±749 µg/lit. Two hundred fifty five (59.75%) patients were male and 171 (40.25%) patients were female. The top five most prevalent causes of hospital admission were splenectomy (21.8%), infections (19.9%), congestive heart failure (19.0%), diabetes mellitus (13.4%), and Liver biopsy (11.5%). (P=0.0002)
Results of this study revealed that infections and complications due to iron overload are major causes of hospital admission in beta thalassemia major patients.
PMCID: PMC3446139  PMID: 23056840
Beta Thalassemia major; Hospitalization; Complication; Iran
2.  Assessment Hepatomegaly and liver Enzymes in 100 Patients with beta Thalassemia Major in Mashhad, Iran 
Frequent blood transfusion in patients with beta thalassemia major can lead to iron overload especially in liver. Chronic iron overload could cause cirrhosis of the liver. Transfusion- transmitted hepatitis B and C also could develop cirrhosis in individuals.
Materials and Methods
The present cross- sectional descriptive study is to assess hepatomegaly and liver enzymes in 100 patients with beta thalassemia major, ages between 2-18 years old. The study was carried out retrospectively. One hundred medical records have chosen from 400 samples of thalassemia major patients, who are under a regular care of the department of sarvar clinic.
Out of these patients, 55% were male and 45% female. The mean age of thalassemia patients was 10.8± 4.4 years. The mean and S. D of hemoglobin, ferritin, deferoxamine dosage was 8.5 ± 1.5g/dl , 2183 ± 1528 ng , 30 ± 11.16 mg/kg, respectively. Forty six percent of them had hepatomegaly. The mean and S. D of AST and ALT were 95± 70 IU/L and 70 ±35U/L respectively. Splenectomy was performed on 44% of patient.
Hepatomegaly is one of the most common findings in the thalassemic patient that induced with hemosiderosis and hepatitis.
PMCID: PMC3915436  PMID: 24575259
Epidemiology; Hepatomegaly; Liver; beta-Thalassemia
3.  Beliefs about chelation among thalassemia patients 
Understanding patients’ views about medication is crucial to maximize adherence. Thalassemia is a congenital blood disorder requiring chronic blood transfusions and daily iron chelation therapy.
The Beliefs in Medicine Questionnaire (BMQ) was used to assess beliefs in chelation in thalassemia patients from North America and London in the Thalassemia Longitudinal Cohort (TLC) of the Thalassemia Clinical Research Network (TCRN). Chelation adherence was based on patient report of doses administered out of those prescribed in the last four weeks.
Of 371 patients (ages 5-58y, mean 24y), 93% were transfused and 92% receiving chelation (26% deferoxamine (DFO; a slow subcutaneous infusion via portable pump), 63% oral, 11% combination). Patients expressed high “necessity” for transfusion (96%), DFO chelation (92%) and oral chelation (89%), with lower “concern” about treatment (48%, 39%, 19% respectively). Concern about oral chelation was significantly lower than that of DFO (p<0.001). Self-reported adherence to chelation was not associated with views about necessity or concerns, but negatively correlated with perceived sensitivity to DFO (Sensitive Soma scale; r=−0.23, p=0.01) and side effects of oral chelation (r=−0.14, p=0.04). High ferritin iron levels, potentially indicating lower adherence, were found in 41% of patients reporting low necessity of oral chelation compared to 24% reporting high necessity (p=0.048). Concerns about treatment were associated with lower quality of life and more symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Despite their requirement for multimodal therapy, thalassemia patients have positive views about medicine, more so than in other disease populations. Patients may benefit from education about the tolerability of chelation and strategies to effectively cope with side effects, both of which might be beneficial in lowering body iron burden. identifier
PMCID: PMC3545841  PMID: 23216870
Thalassemia; Necessity; Concerns; Chelation; Adherence
4.  Beta-thalassemia 
Beta-thalassemias are a group of hereditary blood disorders characterized by anomalies in the synthesis of the beta chains of hemoglobin resulting in variable phenotypes ranging from severe anemia to clinically asymptomatic individuals. The total annual incidence of symptomatic individuals is estimated at 1 in 100,000 throughout the world and 1 in 10,000 people in the European Union. Three main forms have been described: thalassemia major, thalassemia intermedia and thalassemia minor. Individuals with thalassemia major usually present within the first two years of life with severe anemia, requiring regular red blood cell (RBC) transfusions. Findings in untreated or poorly transfused individuals with thalassemia major, as seen in some developing countries, are growth retardation, pallor, jaundice, poor musculature, hepatosplenomegaly, leg ulcers, development of masses from extramedullary hematopoiesis, and skeletal changes that result from expansion of the bone marrow. Regular transfusion therapy leads to iron overload-related complications including endocrine complication (growth retardation, failure of sexual maturation, diabetes mellitus, and insufficiency of the parathyroid, thyroid, pituitary, and less commonly, adrenal glands), dilated myocardiopathy, liver fibrosis and cirrhosis). Patients with thalassemia intermedia present later in life with moderate anemia and do not require regular transfusions. Main clinical features in these patients are hypertrophy of erythroid marrow with medullary and extramedullary hematopoiesis and its complications (osteoporosis, masses of erythropoietic tissue that primarily affect the spleen, liver, lymph nodes, chest and spine, and bone deformities and typical facial changes), gallstones, painful leg ulcers and increased predisposition to thrombosis. Thalassemia minor is clinically asymptomatic but some subjects may have moderate anemia. Beta-thalassemias are caused by point mutations or, more rarely, deletions in the beta globin gene on chromosome 11, leading to reduced (beta+) or absent (beta0) synthesis of the beta chains of hemoglobin (Hb). Transmission is autosomal recessive; however, dominant mutations have also been reported. Diagnosis of thalassemia is based on hematologic and molecular genetic testing. Differential diagnosis is usually straightforward but may include genetic sideroblastic anemias, congenital dyserythropoietic anemias, and other conditions with high levels of HbF (such as juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia and aplastic anemia). Genetic counseling is recommended and prenatal diagnosis may be offered. Treatment of thalassemia major includes regular RBC transfusions, iron chelation and management of secondary complications of iron overload. In some circumstances, spleen removal may be required. Bone marrow transplantation remains the only definitive cure currently available. Individuals with thalassemia intermedia may require splenectomy, folic acid supplementation, treatment of extramedullary erythropoietic masses and leg ulcers, prevention and therapy of thromboembolic events. Prognosis for individuals with beta-thalassemia has improved substantially in the last 20 years following recent medical advances in transfusion, iron chelation and bone marrow transplantation therapy. However, cardiac disease remains the main cause of death in patients with iron overload.
PMCID: PMC2893117  PMID: 20492708
5.  Renal functions in pediatric patients with beta-thalassemia major: relation to chelation therapy: original prospective study 
In β-thalassemia, profound anemia and severe hemosiderosis cause functional and physiological abnormalities in various organ systems. In recent years, there have been few published studies mainly in adult demonstrating renal involvement in β-thalassemia. This prospective study was aimed to investigate renal involvement in pediatric patients with transfusion dependant beta-thalassemia major (TD-βTM), using both conventional and early markers of glomerular and tubular dysfunctions, and to correlate findings to oxidative stress and iron chelation therapy.
Sixty-nine TD-βTM patients (aged 1-16 years) and 15 healthy controls (aged 3-14 years) were enrolled in this study. Based on receiving chelation therapy (deferoxamine, DFO), patients were divided into two groups: group [I] with chelation (n = 34) and group [II] without chelation (n = 35). Levels of creatinine (Cr), calcium (Ca), inorganic phosphorus (PO4), uric acid (UA) and albumin were measured by spectrophotometer. Serum (S) levels of cystatin-C (SCysC) and total antioxidant capacity (STAC) and urinary (U) levels of β2-microglobulin (Uβ2MG) were measured by immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Urinary N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (UNAG) activity and malondialdehyde (UMDA) were measured by chemical methods. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was determined from serum creatinine.
In patient with and without chelation, glomerular [elevated SCysC, SCr, Ualbumin/Cr and diminished eGFR]; and tubular dysfunctions [elevated SUA, SPO4, UNAG/Cr, Uβ2MG/Cr] and oxidative stress marker disturbances [diminished STAC and elevated UMDA/Cr] were reported than controls. In patients with chelation, SCysC was significantly higher while, STAC was significantly lower than those without chelation. In all patients, SCysC showed significant positive correlation with SCr and negative correlation with eGFR; STAC showed significant positive correlation with eGFR and negative correlation with SCysC, SCr, UNAG/Cr; UMDA/Cr showed significant positive correlation with Ualbumin/Cr, Uβ2MG/Cr, UNAG/Cr.
Our data confirm high frequency of glomerular and tubular dysfunctions in TD-βTM pediatric patients which could be attributed to oxidative stress and DFO therapy.
PMCID: PMC2894023  PMID: 20500848
6.  Serum lipid profiles in patients with beta-thalassemia major and intermedia in southern Iran 
Beta-thalassemia is considered to be the most frequent hereditary blood disorder worldwide. Lipid abnormalities have been detected in different types of beta-thalassemia. The aim of this study is to assess the lipid profiles in beta-thalassemia major (BTM) and beta-thalassemia intermedia (BTI) patients in southern Iran.
The study group consisted of 55 BTM patients and 50 BTI patients. The control group included 130 sex-and age-matched healthy participants. Serum lipids profiles (total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and HDL-cholesterol) as well as hemoglobin (Hb) and ferritin, were compared between the three groups. P value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
There were no significant differences between BTM and BTI patients regarding age or sex. Mean triglyceride concentration was not significantly different between patients and controls. Total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol were significantly lower in patients with BTM and BTI in comparison with controls (p < 0.001). HDL-cholesterol was significantly lower in patients with BTI than in controls (p < 0.03).
In patients with BTM and BTI, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol were lower than in control participants. The mechanisms that may account for these findings are increased erythropoiesis and cholesterol consumption in BTI, and iron overload and oxidative stress in BTM.
PMCID: PMC3082801  PMID: 21526074
Beta-Thalassemia Major; Beta-Thalassemia Intermedia; Total Cholesterol; LDL-Cholesterol; HDL-Cholesterol; Triglycerides
7.  Beta-globin Gene Mutations in Turkish Children with Beta-Thalassemia: Results from a Single Center Study 
The beta thalassemias are common genetic disorders in Turkey and in this retrospective study our aim was to evaluate β-globin chain mutations and the phenotypic severity of β-thalassemia patients followed-up in our hospital, a tertiary center which serves patients from all regions of Turkey.
Materials and Methods
106 pediatric patients were analysed for β-globin gene mutations by using DNA analysis. Patients were classified as having β-thalassemia major or β-thalassemia intermedia based on age at diagnosis, transfusion frequency and lowest hemoglobin concentration in between transfusions.
There were 106 patients (52.8% female and 47.2% male) with a mean age of 11.2±5 years (1.6 – 22.3 years). Eighty-four (79.2%) patients had β-thalassemia major, whereas the remaining 22 patients (20.8%) were identified as having β-thalassemia intermedia. Overall, 18 different mutations were detected on 212 alleles. The most frequently encountered mutation was IVS I.110 (G>A) (35.3%), followed by Codon 8 del-AA (10.4%), IVS II.1 (G>A) (8%), IVS I.1 (G>A) (7.5%), Codon 39 (C>T) (7.1%) and Codon 5 (−CT) (6.6%), which made up 79.4% of observed mutations. According to present results, IVS I.110 (G>AA) was the most frequent mutation observed in this study, as in other results from Turkey. Evaluation of β-thalassemia mutations in 106 patients with 212 alleles, revealed the presence of homozygous mutation in 85 patients (80.2%) and compound heterozygous mutation in 21 patients (19.8%). The mutations detected in patients with homozygous mutation were IVS I.110 (G>A) (38.8%), Codon 8 del –AA (11.8%), IVS II.1 (G>A) (8.2%) and IVS I.1 (G>A) (8.2%). Observed mutations in the compound heterozygotes were Codon 39 (C>T)/Codon 41–42 (−CTTT) (14.3%), IVS I.110 (G>A)/Codon 39(C>T) (14.3%), IVS I.110 (G>A)/Codon 44(−C) (14.3%), and IVS II.745 (C>G)/5′UTR + 22 (G>A) (9.5%).
Our hospital is a tertiary referral center that provides care to patients from all over the country, and thus the distribution of mutations observed in the current study is significant in term of representing that of the country as a whole.
PMCID: PMC3787702  PMID: 24106605
8.  Quality of Life in Patients with Thalassemia Major and Intermedia in Kerman-Iran (I.R.) 
Thalassemia is the most common hemoglobin disorder in the world and thalassemia major and intermedia stand among the most severe forms. Due to recent improvements in treatment, patients with thalassemia have longer life expectancies; hence it is of utmost importance to pay careful attention to their quality of life together with life expectancy. This study was conducted to assess the quality of life in patients with thalassemia and also to compare it between thalassemia major and intermedia. In this cross-sectional study, patients who referred for blood transfusion or follow-up visits were evaluated for their quality of life (QOL). Short Form-36 questionnaire was applied to evaluate QOL. In this study, 308 patients with a mean age of 22.95±4.82 years were evaluated. The scores of QOL were regarded as moderate in eight domains under evaluation; the least score was given to General Health (53.05±16.96) whereas the highest score was given to Physical Functioning (67.95±22.68). The QOL in the patients with thalassemia major was better than those with thalassemia intermedia regarding Physical Functioning and Role Limitation Emotional domains. Compared to injecting chelators, patients who received oral chelators showed to have a better QOL considering Social Functioning and Mental Health domain. The patients under study didn’t have a satisfying QOL ; the QOL of patients with thalassemia major was better than that of patients with thalassemia intermedia in only 2 domains of sf-36(Physical Functioning & Role limitation-Emotional). It is then essential that experts pay proper attention to improve QOL among patients.
PMCID: PMC3499998  PMID: 23170187
9.  Iron Chelation Therapy in Thalassemia Syndromes 
Transfusional hemosiderosis is a frequent complication in patients with transfusion dependent chronic diseases such as thalassemias and severe type of sickle cell diseases. As there are no physiological mechanisms to excrete the iron contained in transfused red cells (1 unit of blood contains approximately 200 mg of iron) the excess of iron is stored in various organs. Cardiomyopathy is the most severe complication covering more than 70% of the causes of death of thalassemic patients. Although the current reference standard iron chelator deferoxamine (DFO) has been used clinically for over four decades, its effectiveness is limited by a demanding therapeutic regimen that leads to poor compliance. Despite poor compliance, because of the inconvenience of subcutaneous infusion, DFO improved considerably the survival and quality of life of patients with thalassemia. Deferiprone since 1998 and Deferasirox since 2005 were licensed for clinical use. The oral chelators have a better compliance because of oral use, a comparable efficacy to DFO in iron excretion and probably a better penetration to myocardial cells. Considerable increase in iron excretion was documented with combination therapy of DFO and Deferiprone. The proper use of the three chelators will improve the prevention and treatment of iron overload, it will reduce complications, and improve survival and quality of life of transfused patients.
PMCID: PMC3033168  PMID: 21415999
10.  Prevalence of Hypoparathyroidism (HPT) in Beta Thalassemia Major 
Introduction: The aim of this study was to assess the parathyroid functions and bone mineral density (BMD) in patients with beta thalassemia and to correlate them with serum ferritin, calcium, phosphorus and alkaline phosphatase levels.
Materials and Methods: This is a case control study which was done on 55 subjects (40 cases and 15 controls) in the age group of 2-18 years. The cases included were with confirmed diagnosis of beta thalassemia major, more than ten blood transfusions and serum ferritin levels >2000 μg/L irrespective of chelation therapy.
Results: Significant Hypoparathyroidism (HPT) observed along with low BMD levels in beta thalassemia patients (p < 0.01).
A significant decrease in serum calcium level was seen in cases when compared to controls, where as the levels of both serum phosphorus and alkaline phosphatase levels increased in cases when compared to controls.
Conclusion: BMD and PTH levels are very useful tools for diagnosing HPT. As a routine, in beta thalassemia major, screening for vitamin D deficiency and hypocalcemia should be done in second decade of life and as a preventive measure they should be supplemented with calcium and vitamin D to prevent hypocalcemic tetany, to facilitate bone growth and to prevent fractures.
PMCID: PMC3972574
Bone mineral density (BMD); Parathyroid hormone (PTH); Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)
11.  Comparative Efficacy and Safety of Deferoxamine, Deferiprone and Deferasirox on Severe Thalassemia: A Meta-Analysis of 16 Randomized Controlled Trials 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82662.
A meta-analysis was conducted to investigate the efficacy and safety of three main iron chelators, namely, deferoxamine (DFO), deferiprone (DFP) and deferasirox (DFX) for thalassemia major (TM) patients.
Randomized controlled trials comparing mono-therapy DFO, DFP, DFX and combined DFP with DFO therapy in TM patients from January 1990 to December 2012 were searched and selected. Two independent authors assessed data from extracted randomized trials for efficacy and safety in the measurements of serum ferritin (SF), live iron concentration (LIC), myocardial iron content (MIC), left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and adverse events (AEs).
Sixteen studies were selected. In the comparison of DFP versus DFO treatment groups, a significant difference was revealed on MIC and LVEF (P=0.01 and P=0.007, respectively) but not on SF or LIC level (P=0.65 and P=0.37, respectively). In comparing combined therapy (DFP plus DFO) versus DFO, a significant difference was shown on MIC and LVEF measurements (P<0.00001 and P=0.003, respectively), but not on SF or LIC levels (P=0.93 and P=0.62, respectively). Moreover, the combined DFP with DFO treatment had significantly higher risk than DFO treatment (RR 1.46 with 95%CI 1.04 to 2.04). When comparing DFX with DFO, a significant difference was shown on the SF level (P=0.003), and there was no difference between DFX and DFO in safety evaluation (RR 1.53 with 95%CI 0.31 to 7.49).
Findings indicated that the most effective and safe iron chelators remains to be proven, and further large-scale, long-term studies are needed.
PMCID: PMC3871701  PMID: 24376563
12.  Comparison of Right and Left Side Heart Functions in Patients with Thalassemia Major, Patients with Thalassemia Intermedia, and Control Group 
Heart disease is the main cause of mortality and morbidity in patients with beta thalassemia, rendering its early diagnosis vital. We studied and compared echocardiographic findings in patients with beta thalassemia major, patients with beta thalassemia intermedia, and a control group.
Eighty asymptomatic patients with thalassemia major and 22 asymptomatic cases with thalassemia intermedia (8–25 years old) were selected from those referred to Ali Asghar Hospital (Zahedan-Iran) between June 2008 and June 2009. Additionally, 80 healthy individuals within the same age and sex groups were used as controls. All the individuals underwent echocardiography, the data of which were analyzed with the Student t-test.
The mean value of the pre-ejection period/ejection time ratio of the left ventricle during systole, the diameter of the posterior wall of the left ventricle during diastole, the left and right isovolumic relaxation times, and the right myocardial performance index in the patients with beta thalassemia major and intermedia increased significantly compared to those of the controls, but the other parameters were similar between the two patient groups. The mean values of the left and right pre-ejection periods, left ventricular end systolic dimension, and left isovolumic contraction time in the patients with thalassemia intermedia increased significantly compared to those of the controls. In the left side, myocardial performance index, left ventricular mass index, isovolumic contraction time, and deceleration time exhibited significant changes between the patients with thalassemia major and those with thalassemia intermedia, whereas all the echocardiographic parameters of the right side were similar between these two groups.
The results showed that the systolic and diastolic functions of the right and left sides of the heart would be impaired in patients with thalassemia major and thalassemia intermedia. Consequently, serial echocardiography is suggested in asymptomatic patients with beta thalassemia for an early diagnosis of heart dysfunction and proper treatment.
PMCID: PMC3587672  PMID: 23646046
Thalassemia; Echocardiography; Heart diseases
13.  Changes in bone micro-architecture and biomechanical properties in the th3 thalassemia mouse are associated with decreased bone turnover and occur during the period of bone accrual 
Calcified tissue international  2010;86(6):484-494.
Osteoporosis and fractures occur frequently in patients with beta thalassemias, a group of congenital hemolytic anemias characterized by decreased synthesis of the beta chain of hemoglobin. In this study, we determined the bone abnormalities of the th3 thalassemia mouse, generated by deletion of the mouse beta chain genes. The heterozygote th3/+ mouse has moderate anemia, and serves as a model of beta thalassemia intermedia (TI), which represents the mild thalassemia phenotype. The th3/th3 mouse has lethal anemia and is a model of beta thalassemia major (TM), which is characterized by life-threatening anemia requiring regular transfusions to sustain life.
Compared to controls: i) Micro-CT of trabecular bone showed decreased bone volume fraction, number of trabeculae and trabecular thickness in both th3/+ and th3/th3 (p<0.05). ii) Cortical bone analysis showed thinner cortices and increased marrow area in th3/+ animals (p<0.05). iii) Micro-CT abnormalities in th3/+ mice were present by 2 months and did not worsen with age. iv) Histomorphometry was significant for decreased bone formation and resorption in both th3/+ and th3/th3. Similarly, cathepsin K and osteocalcin expression from bone of both th3/+and th3/th3 animals was reduced (p<0.05). vi) Biomechanics showed reduced maximum load, maximum moment and structural stiffness in both th3/+and th3/th3 (p<0.01).
In conclusion, the th3 mouse model of thalassemia manifests bone changes reminiscent of those in humans, and can be used for further bone studies in thalassemia. Bone changes are associated with decreased bone turnover, and develop early on during the period of bone accrual.
PMCID: PMC2917203  PMID: 20449578
14.  Associates of poor physical and mental health-related quality of life in beta thalassemia-major/intermedia 
Using two logistic regression models, we determined the associates of poor physical and mental health related quality of life (HRQoL) among beta thalassemia patients.
In this cross-sectional study which was conducted during 2006 and 2007 in outpatient adult thalassemia clinic, Blood Transfusion Organization, Tehran, Iran, Short Form 36 (SF-36) was used for measuring HRQoL in 179 patients with beta thalassemia (major/intermedia). We determined scores higher than third quartiles of obtained PCS and MCS scores as the cutoff points of good HRQoL. Poor HRQoL was defined scores lower than first quartiles of obtained PCS and MCS scores. Two distinct logistic regression models were used to derive associated variables including demographic, clinical, and psychological factors.
The regression models suggested that poor physical HRQoL was positively associated with somatic comorbidities (OR = 1.472, CI = 1.021-2.197, p = 0.048) and depression score (OR = 8.568, CI = 2.325-31.573, p = 0.001). The variables that were associated with poor mental HRQoL were anxiety score (OR = 9.409, CI = 1.022-89.194, p = 0.049) and depression score (OR = 20.813, CI = 4.320-100.266, p < 0.001).
Depression is associated with both poor physical and mental HRQoL among patients with major/intermedia beta thalassemia, however somatic comorbidities and anxiety are associated with poor physical and mental HRQoL, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3129078  PMID: 21772908
Thalassemia; Health Related Quality of Life; Anxiety; Depression; Somatic Comorbidities
15.  Regional consensus opinion for the management of Beta thalassemia major in the Arabian Gulf area 
Thalassemia syndrome has diverse clinical presentations and a global spread that has far exceeded the classical Mediterranean basin where the mutations arose. The mutations that give rise to either alpha or beta thalassemia are numerous, resulting in a wide spectrum of clinical severity ranging from carrier state to life-threatening, inherited hemolytic anemia that requires regular blood transfusion. Beta thalassemia major constitutes a remarkable challenge to health care providers. The complications arising due to the anemia, transfusional iron overload, as well as other therapy-related complications add to the complexity of this condition. To produce this consensus opinion manuscript, a PubMed search was performed to gather evidence-based original articles, review articles, as well as published work reflecting the experience of physicians and scientists in the Arabian Gulf region in an effort to standardize the management protocol.
PMCID: PMC3848639  PMID: 24044606
Anemia; Chelation; Arabian Gulf; Iron chelation therapy; Iron overload; Thalassemia management; Transfusion
16.  Endocrine Function in Thalassemia Intermedia 
Thalassemias are the most common genetic disorder on a wordwide basis. β-thalassemia is a severe hemolytic anemia which results from genetic defects in the synthesis of the hemoglobin β-chain. Various endocrine abnormalities have been described in patients with thalassemia major. Endocrine disturbances have also been observed in patients with thalassemia intermedia (TI). In this study endocrine functions were investigated in TI and here the frequency of different abnormalities is reported. Ninety-three patients (40 males, 53 females) with thalassemia intermedia, 11-40 years old (mean 19.4 yr) were studied. Medical history was obtained and a complete physical examination was done for each patient. The age, sex, weight, height and serum ferritin levels were recorded using a questionnaire. Growth Hormone (GH) secretion, thyrotropin (TSH), T4, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and cortisole levels were determined in these patients. The mean ± Standard Deviation (SD) serum ferritin level was 452.4 ± 312.60 μg/L. Mean ± SD hemoglobin concentration was 9 ± 1 g/dl. Short stature was present in 46% of patients. Growth hormone deficiency was one of the most frequent (31%) endocrine abnormalities in these patients. Primary hypothyroidism was observed in 21.5% of patients. Hypoparathyroidism was found in one patient (1%). Failure of puberty was present in 2% of patients, secondary ammenorrhea was observed in 6.4% of patients and diabetes mellitus (DM) in 2% of patients. Conclusion: Growth retardation and GH deficiency should be considered as common finding in TI. Therefore endocrine evaluation of these patients is suggested to prevent complications and to improve the overall quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3614602  PMID: 23674986
thalassemia intermedia; endocrinopathies
17.  Combined Chelation Therapy with Deferasirox and Deferoxamine in Thalassemia 
Iron overload is the primary cause of mortality and morbidity in thalassemia major despite advances in chelation therapy. We performed a pilot clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of combined therapy with deferasirox (DFX, 20-30 mg/kg daily) and deferoxamine (DFO, 35-50 mg/kg on 3-7 days/week) in 22 patients with persistent iron overload or organ damage. In the 18 subjects completing 12 months of therapy, median liver iron concentration decreased by 31% from 17.4 mg/g (range 3.9-38.2 mg/g) to 12.0 mg/g (range 0.96-26.7 mg/g, P<0.001). Median ferritin decreased by 24% from 2,465 ng/mL (range 1,110-10,700 ng/mL) to 1,875 ng/mL (range 421-5,800 ng/mL, p=0.002). All 6 subjects with elevated myocardial iron showed improvement in MRI T2* (p=0.031). The mean ± S.E. plasma non-transferrin-bound iron (NTBI) declined from 3.10 ± 0.25 μM to 2.15 ± 0.29 μM (p=0.028). The administration of DFX during infusion of DFO further lowered NTBI (-0.28 ±0.08 μM, p=0.004) and labile plasma iron (LPI, -0.03 ± 0.01 μM, p=0.006). The simultaneous administration of DFO and DFX rapidly reduced systemic and myocardial iron, and provided an excellent control of the toxic labile plasma iron species without an increase in toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3592978  PMID: 23151373
Thalassemia Major; Iron overload; Deferoxamine; Deferasirox
18.  Future alternative therapies for β-thalassemia 
β-thalassemia is an inherited disorder due to mutations found in the β-globin gene, leading to anemia and requiring sporadic or chronic blood transfusions for survival. Without proper chelation, β-thalassemia results in iron overload. Ineffective erythropoiesis can lead to iron overload even in untransfused patients who are affected by β-thalassemia intermedia. Better understanding of the molecular biologic aspects of this disorder has led to improvements in population screening and prenatal diagnosis, which, in turn, have led to dramatic reductions in the number of children born with β-thalassemia major in the Mediterranean littoral. However, as a consequence of decreases in neonatal and childhood mortality in other geographical areas, β-thalassemia has become a worldwide clinical problem. A number of unsolved pathophysiological issues remain, such as ineffective erythropoieis, abnormal iron absorption, oxidative stress, splenomegaly and thrombosis. In the last few years, novel studies have the potential to introduce new therapeutic approaches that might reduce these problems and limit the need for blood transfusion.
PMCID: PMC2823128  PMID: 20174612
anemia; β-thalassemia; erythropoietin; ferroportin; fetal hemoglobin; gene transfer; hepcidin; ineffective erythropoiesis; iron metabolism; Jak2; lentiviral vector; radicals; reactive oxygen species
19.  Distribution of β-Globin Gene Mutations in Thalassemia Minor Population of Kerman Province, Iran 
Mutations in β-globin gene may result in β-thalassemia major, which is one of the most common genetic disorders in Iran and some other countries. Knowing the beta-globin mutation spectrum improves the efficiency of prenatal diagnosis in the affected fetuses (major β-thalassemia) of heterozygote couples.
Couples with high hemoglobin A2 and low mean corpuscular volume were studied as suspicious of β-thalassemia carriers in Genetic Laboratory of Afzalipour Hospital, Kerman, Iran. We used amplification refractory mutation system, reverse hybridization, and DNA sequencing to determine the spectrum of β-globin gene mutation in the people who involved with β-thalassemia minor in this province.
Among the 266 subjects, 17 different types of mutation in β-globin gene were identified. Three of the mutations account for 77.1% of the studied cases. IVSI-5(G> C) was the most frequent mutation (66.2%) followed by IVSII-I (G> A) (6%) and Fr 8–9 (+G) (4.9%). The less frequent mutations include: IVSI-6(T> C), codon 15 (G>A), codon 44 (-C), codon 39 (C>T), codon 8 (-AA), codon30 (G> C), IVSI-110 (G > A), codon 36–37 (-T), 619bp deletion, codon 5 (-CT), IVSI-25bp del, codon 41–42(-TTCT), IVSI-I (G> A), and βnt30 (T>A) were accounted for 19.5%. Unknown alleles comprised 3.4% of the mutations.
However, the frequencies of different mutations reported here are significantly different from those found in other part of the world and even other Iranian provinces. Reporting a number of these mutations in the neighboring countries such as Pakistan can be explained by gene flow phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC3481756  PMID: 23113009
β-globin gene; Mutations; β-thalassemia; Iran
In iron overload conditions, plasma contains non-transferrin bound iron species, collectively referred to as plasma NTBI. These include iron-citrate species, some of which are protein bound. Because NTBI is taken into tissues susceptible to iron loading, its removal by chelation is desirable but only partial using standard deferoxamine (DFO) therapy. Speciation plots suggest that, at clinically achievable concentrations, deferiprone (DFP) will shuttle iron onto DFO to form feroxamine (FO), but whether NTBI chelation is enhanced to therapeutically relevant rates is unknown. As FO is highly stable, kinetic measurements of FO formation by HPLC or by stopped-flow spectrometry is achievable. In serum from thalassemia major patients, supplemented with 10µM DFO, FO formation paralleled NTBI removal but never exceeded 50% of potentially available NTBI: approximately one third of NTBI was chelated rapidly but only 15% of the remainder at 20h. Addition of DFP increased the magnitude of the slower component, with increments in FO formation equivalent to complete NTBI removal by 8h. This shuttling effect was absent in serum from healthy control subjects, indicating no transferrin iron removal. Studies with iron-citrate solutions also showed biphasic chelation by DFO, the slow component being accelerated by the addition of DFP, with optimal enhancement at 30µM. Physiological concentrations of albumin also enhanced DFO chelation from iron citrate, and co-addition of DFP further accelerated this effect. We conclude that at clinically relevant concentrations, DFP enhances plasma NTBI chelation with DFO by rapidly accessing and shuttling NTBI fractions that are otherwise only slowly available to DFO.
PMCID: PMC2927975  PMID: 20627190
21.  Treatment of heart failure in adults with thalassemia major: response in patients randomised to deferoxamine with or without deferiprone 
Established heart failure in thalassaemia major has a poor prognosis and optimal management remains unclear.
A 1 year prospective study comparing deferoxamine (DFO) monotherapy or when combined with deferiprone (DFP) for patients with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) <56% was conducted by the Thalassemia Clinical Research Network (TCRN). All patients received DFO at 50–60 mg/kg 12–24 hr/day sc or iv 7 times weekly, combined with either DFP 75 at mg/kg/day (combination arm) or placebo (DFO monotherapy arm). The primary endpoint was the change in LVEF by CMR.
Improvement in LVEF was significant in both study arms at 6 and 12 months (p = 0.04), normalizing ventricular function in 9/16 evaluable patients. With combination therapy, the LVEF increased from 49.9% to 55.2% (+5.3% p = 0.04; n = 10) at 6 months and to 58.3% at 12 months (+8.4% p = 0.04; n = 7). With DFO monotherapy, the LVEF increased from 52.8% to 55.7% (+2.9% p = 0.04; n = 6) at 6 months and to 56.9% at 12 months (+4.1% p = 0.04; n = 4). The LVEF trend did not reach statistical difference between study arms (p = 0.89). In 2 patients on DFO monotherapy during the study and in 1 patient on combined therapy during follow up, heart failure deteriorated fatally. The study was originally powered for 86 participants to determine a 5% difference in LVEF improvement between treatments. The study was prematurely terminated due to slow recruitment and with the achieved sample size of 20 patients there was 80% power to detect an 8.6% difference in EF, which was not demonstrated. Myocardial T2* improved in both arms (combination +1.9 ± 1.6 ms p = 0.04; and DFO monotherapy +1.9 ± 1.4 ms p = 0.04), but with no significant difference between treatments (p = 0.65). Liver iron (p = 0.03) and ferritin (p < 0.001) both decreased significantly in only the combination group.
Both treatments significantly improved LVEF and myocardial T2*. Although this is the largest and only randomized study in patients with LV decompensation, further prospective evaluation is needed to identify optimal chelation management in these high-risk patients.
PMCID: PMC3669105  PMID: 23688265
Thalassemia; Heart failure; Deferoxamine; Deferiprone; Combination
22.  Screening of Five Common Beta Thalassemia Mutations in the Pakistani Population 
Thalassemia is one of the most common autosomal single-gene disorder worldwide. The highest prevalence of the disease is in the “thalassemia belt” which includes the Mediterranean region, parts of the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, the southern parts of the Far East, Pakistan and South-East Asia. This study aimed to detect the common molecular abnormalities of the beta thalassemia syndrome in Pakistan.
The study was conducted at the Institute of Hematology, Baqai Medical University, Karachi, Pakistan from August 2004 to November 2007. Blood samples of patients with beta thalassemia major (n = 400) were collected from hospital transfusion centres and diagnostic laboratories in different districts of Karachi representing five major ethnic groups including Punjabi, Pathan, Sindhi, Baluchi and Urdu speaking. All the samples were analysed for five common mutations by using the polymerase chain reaction technique ARMS (amplification of refractory mutation system).
The data revealed five common mutations including IVS 1–5(G→C), Fr 41/42(-CTTT), Fr 8/9 (+G), IVS 1–1 and Del 619. These accounted for 90% of the total beta thalassemia genes in Pakistan. The IVS 1–5(G→C) was found to be the most common beta thalassemia gene in the Pakistani population with a frequency of 44.4% present in all major ethnic groups.
The results of this study will be helpful in the establishment of a large scale prenatal diagnosis programme in Pakistan.
PMCID: PMC3074786  PMID: 21509314
Beta thalassemia; Mutations; Pakistani population; Prenatal diagnosis
23.  Genetic Epidemiology, Hematological and Clinical Features of Hemoglobinopathies in Iran 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:803487.
There is large variation in the molecular genetics and clinical features of hemoglobinopathies in Iran. Studying structural variants of hemoglobin demonstrated that the β-chain variants of hemoglobin S and D-Punjab are more prevalent in the Fars (southwestern Iran) and Kermanshah (western Iran) provinces, respectively. Also, α-chain variants of Hb Q-Iran and Hb Setif are prevalent in western Iran. The molecular basis and clinical severity of thalassemias are extremely heterogenous among Iranians due to the presence of multiethnic groups in the country. β-Thalassemia is more prevalent in northern and southern Iran. Among 52 different β-thalassemia mutations that have been identified among Iranian populations, IVSII-1 G:A is the most frequent mutation in most parts of the country. The presence of IVS I-5 G:C mutation with high frequency in southeastern Iran might reflect gene flow from neighboring countries. A wide spectrum of α-thalassemia alleles has been detected among Iranians with −α3.7 kb as the most prevalent α-thalassemia mutation. The prevention program of thalassemia birth in Iran has reduced the birth rate of homozygous β-thalassemia since the implementation of the program in 1997. In this review genetic epidemiology, clinical and hematological aspects of hemoglobinopathies, and the prevention programs of β-thalassemia in Iran will be discussed.
PMCID: PMC3703361  PMID: 23853772
24.  Cardiac and hepatic iron and ejection fraction in thalassemia major: Multicentre prospective comparison of combined Deferiprone and Deferoxamine therapy against Deferiprone or Deferoxamine Monotherapy 
Due to the limited data available in literature, the aim of this multi-centre study was to prospectively compare in thalassemia major (TM) patients the efficacy of combined deferiprone (DFP) and deferoxamine (DFO) regimen versus either DFP and DFO in monotherapy by cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) over a follow up of 18 months.
Among the first 1135 TM patients in the MIOT (Myocardial Iron Overload in Thalassemia) network, we evaluated those who had received either combined regimen (DFO + DFP, N=51) or DFP (N=39) and DFO (N=74) monotherapies between the two CMR scans. Iron overload was measured by T2* multiecho technique. Biventricular function parameters were quantitatively evaluated by cine images.
The percentage of patients that maintained a normal global heart T2* value was comparable between DFP+DFO versus both monotherapy groups. Among the patients with myocardial iron overload at baseline, the changes in the global heart T2* and in biventricular function were not significantly different in DFP+DFO compared with the DFP group. The improvement in the global heart T2* was significantly higher in the DFP+DFO than the DFO group, without a difference in biventricular function. Among the patients with hepatic iron at baseline, the decrease in liver iron concentration values was significantly higher with combination therapy than with either monotherapy group.
In TM patients at the dosages used in the real world, the combined DFP+DFO regimen was more effective in removing cardiac iron than DFO, and was superior in clearing hepatic iron than either DFO or DFP monotherapy. Combined therapy did not show an additional effect on heart function over DFP.
PMCID: PMC3599638  PMID: 23324167
Thalassemia; Chelation therapy; Cardiovascular magnetic resonance
25.  Causes of New Cases of Major Thalassemia in Sistan and Balouchistan Province in South-East of Iran 
Iranian Journal of Public Health  2012;41(11):67-71.
Thalassemia is the most common monogenic disease in South-East of Iran. Despite the 70% reduction in Iranian thalassemia cases after thalassemia control comprehensive program, 601 affected babies were born in Sistan and Balouchistan Province, Iran from 2002 to 2010, so this study aims at investigating the causes of new thalassemia cases.
Data from this retrospective cross-sectional study was collected through interviews and information in the patients’ hospital records.
Data revealed that 52.4% of fathers and 78.4% of mothers of thalassemic children had elementary education or less. In addition, 78.6% of the couples did not undergo premarital screening for thalassemia and 71.2% of the couples were not notified of their own minor thalassemia until a child was born with major thalassemia. Of the diagnosed minor couples, about 25% did PND and the others did not carry out because mothers were unaware of proper gestational age and of the importance of this issue, financial problems, and the husbands’ disagreement to take the tests. Moreover, 16 mothers, in spite of being diagnosed of having a major fetus, refused to terminate the pregnancy.
The most preventable causes for affected births include couples’ unawareness of being minor and unawares of the PND importance and process.
PMCID: PMC3521888  PMID: 23304678
Thalassemia; Prevention; Prenatal diagnosis; Premarital screening; Iran

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