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scientific articles

Consequences and management of iron overload in sickle cell disease

key information

source: American Society of Hematology

year: 2013

authors: Porter J, Garbowski M



The aims of this review are to highlight the mechanisms and consequences of iron distribution that are most relevant to transfused sickle cell disease (SCD) patients and to address the particular challenges in the monitoring and treatment of iron overload. In contrast to many inherited anemias, in SCD, iron overload does not occur without blood transfusion. The rate of iron loading in SCD depends on the blood transfusion regime: with simple hypertransfusion regimes, rates approximate to thalassemia major, but iron loading can be minimal with automated erythrocyte apheresis. The consequences of transfusional iron overload largely reflect the distribution of storage iron. In SCD, a lower proportion of transfused iron distributes extrahepatically and occurs later than in thalassemia major, so complications of iron overload to the heart and endocrine system are less common. We discuss the mechanisms by which these differences may be mediated. Treatment with iron chelation and monitoring of transfusional iron overload in SCD aim principally at controlling liver iron, thereby reducing the risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Monitoring of liver iron concentration pretreatment and in response to chelation can be estimated using serum ferritin, but noninvasive measurement of liver iron concentration using validated and widely available MRI techniques reduces the risk of under- or overtreatment. The optimal use of chelation regimes to achieve these goals is described.

organization: University College London, United Kingdom

DOI: 10.1182/asheducation-2013.1.447

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