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An Pediatr (Barc). 2013 Aug;79(2):75-82. doi: 10.1016/j.anpedi.2012.12.002. Epub 2013 Feb 9.

[Results of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in hemoglobinopathies: thalassemia major and sickle cell disease].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Oncología y Hematología Pediátrica, Hospital Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.



The prevalence of hemoglobinopathies in Spain is increasing as a result of immigration. Thalassemia major presents with chronic hemolytic anemia that requires regular red blood cell transfusions within the first year of life. Patients with sickle cell disease suffer from chronic anemia, vasculopathy and progressive damage in almost any organ. There is decreased life expectancy in both conditions. Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation represents the only potentially curative option.


Seventeen patients (fourteen thalassemia major, and three sickle cell disease) underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantations.


In the thalassemia group, nine donors were HLA-geno-identical siblings, two were partially matched related donors (one HLA allele mismatch), and three unrelated donors. All three patients with sickle cell disease were transplanted from HLA-geno-identical siblings. The source of stem cells was bone marrow in sixteen cases. Median patient age at transplant was six years (range: 1-16) in the thalassemia group, and twelve years (range: 8-15) in the sickle cell disease group. The graft was successful in all patients. Secondary graft rejection was observed in two thalassemia patients rendering them dependent on blood transfusions. Complete chimerism was observed in thirteen patients and, although mixed chimerism occurred in two, with all of them showing normal hemoglobin levels after transplantation and not requiring further transfusion support. Patients affected by sickle cell disease did not present with new vaso-occlusive crises, and stabilization of pulmonary and neurological function was observed. Chronic graft-versus-host disease was detected in three patients affected by thalassemia, and hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism in five patients.


We conclude that for thalassemia major and sickle cell disease, allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from HLA-geno-identical siblings offers a high probability of complication-free survival. Despite good results, morbidity and mortality associated with transplantation from unrelated donors is a risk that might be considered, in contrast to a non-curative medical treatment that offers a long term survival. For thalassemia major groups it could be an option, but not for sickle cell disease, which is still in the investigational phase.


Enfermedad drepanocítica; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Hemoglobinopathies; Hemoglobinopatía; Immunosuppression; Inmunosupresión; Sickle cell disease; Talasemia maior; Thalassemia major; Trasplante de progenitores hematopoyéticos

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