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Eur J Haematol. 1995 May;54(5):329-33.

Correlation between soluble transferrin receptor and serum ferritin levels following bone marrow transplantation for thalassemia.

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Division of Hematology & BMT Center, Hospital of Pesaro, Italy.


This study analyzes the serum transferrin receptor (sTfR) levels in a series of 230 ex-thalassemics with a follow-up of 1 to 9 years after bone marrow transplantation (BMT) for homozygous beta thalassemia. Ex-thalassemics are individuals, cured of homozygous beta thalassemia by BMT, who maintain different degrees of iron overload acquired during the pretransplant period. Both in experimental and clinical conditions, sTfR concentrations have been shown to be a quantitative measure of body iron status. This study was carried out to assess whether the level of sTfR may be of help in determining the extent of iron overload in ex-thalassemics. Patients who received the marrow from their HLA-identical sibling donor heterozygous for beta thalassemia, namely heterozygous ex-thalassemics, displayed significantly higher levels of sTfR than patients transplanted from their normal sibling donors (normal ex-thalassemics). This finding suggests that increased erythropoiesis, albeit in part ineffective in heterozygous ex-thalassemics, is responsible for the sTfR increment. Both heterozygous and normal ex-thalassemics had significant lower sTfR levels than their heterozygous (p < 0.003) or normal (p < 0.0001) donors, respectively. These differences may be ascribed to the presence of iron overload in ex-thalassemics in comparison to their normal or heterozygous donors who did not present excess of iron in the body. A significant inverse correlation between sTfR and serum ferritin levels (r = -0.54, p < 0.0001) was found when normal ex-thalassemics were considered. In heterozygous ex-thalassemics, the lack of correlation between these two parameters may be explained by the enhanced erythropoietic activity of individuals with thalassemic trait. These results suggest that the level of sTfR may be a useful indicator of iron overload in normal ex-thalassemics.

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