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Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):319-24.

A rare example that coinheritance of a severe form of beta-thalassemia and alpha-thalassemia interact in a "synergistic" manner to balance the phenotype of classic thalassemic syndromes.

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Medical Genetics, Athens University, Athens, Greece.


The coinheritance of beta-thalassemia major with the genotype of Hb H disease is extremely rare, with few reported cases. We investigated the hematological, biochemical, biosynthetic, molecular and pathophysiological parameters to evaluate a rare male patient with this compound syndrome. The patient was studied at first diagnosis during hospitalization at 50 years of age and subsequently followed up for more than a year. Examinations included full hematological, biochemical, biosynthetic, molecular, pathophysiological and clinical parameters. Besides standard parameters, we additionally measured reticulocyte hemoglobin content (CHr), erythropoietin (Epo), soluble transferrin receptors (sTfR), oxygen pressure at 50% hemoglobin saturation (P50), 2,3-bisphosphoglycerate (2,3-BPG), total glutathione (GSHt), oxidized glutathione (GSSG), malonyldialdehyde (MDA), nontransferrin-bound iron (NTBI), vitamins A and E. The male patient was first hospitalized for a 2-day period at 50 years of age, following the finding of marked anemia (hematocrit 20%) during a blood test to investigate the cause of fatigue in the absence of weight-loss or other notable symptomatology. He had never been transfused, maintaining Hb 85-95 g/l. Definitive diagnosis was achieved through DNA studies, which showed coexistence of beta-thalassemia major (IVSI-6 T > C/IVSI-I G > A) with Hb H disease (-alpha(3.7)/-(Med)). Alpha/non-alpha globin chain biosynthesis was completely balanced. Parameters demonstrated a well-compensated anemia with ineffective erythropoiesis and oxidative stress, which was ameliorated following splenectomy. In conclusion, this case is a remarkable example that the coinheritance of severe forms of beta-thalassemia and alpha-thalassemia interact in a "synergistic" manner to almost complete balance the symptoms of classic thalassemia syndromes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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