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Ann Hematol. 2005 Jul;84(7):441-6. Epub 2005 Apr 19.

Hydroxyurea in thalassemia intermedia--a promising therapy.

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Department of Haematology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.


Pharmacological agents such as hydroxyurea (HU) have been known to cause induction of fetal hemoglobin and possibly may alleviate the symptoms in thalassemia intermedia patients. Thirty-seven patients with beta-thalassemia intermedia were enrolled to assess response to HU therapy. Major response was defined as transfusion independence or hemoglobin rise of more than 20 g/l and minor response as rise in hemoglobin of 10-20 g/l or reduction in transfusion frequency by 50%. The median age was 10 years (range: 4-50 years) and median follow-up was 12 months (range: 4-36 months). Twenty-six patients (70.2%) showed response to HU therapy. Seventeen patients (45.9%) were major responders, and nine patients (24.3%) showed minor response. There was no correlation of response with beta-thalassemia mutation or XmnI polymorphism; however, the presence of alpha(3.7) deletion was associated with major response in three patients. Mean fetal hemoglobin (HbF) levels rose on HU therapy. Older age, low baseline F cell percent, and low baseline HbF levels (below 10%) were predictors of poor response. Response was evident within 1 month of starting HU therapy in the majority of responders. Thus, a short trial of HU therapy can predict durable response.

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