Current status in iron chelation in hemoglobinopathies

Maria D. Cappellini, Antonio Piga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although blood transfusions are important for patients with hemoglobinopathies, chronic transfusions inevitably lead to iron overload as humans cannot actively remove excess iron. The cumulative effects of iron overload lead to significant morbidity and mortality, if untreated. Desferrioxamine (DFO) is the reference-standard iron chelator whose safety and efficacy profile has been established through many years of clinical use. DFO side effects are acceptable and manageable however the prolonged subcutaneous infusion regimen of 5-7 days per week is very demanding and results in poor adherence to therapy. Deferiprone (Ferriprox, L1) is a bidentate molecule, orally administrable three-times/day, licensed in Europe and in other regions but in the USA and Canada, for the treatment of iron overload in patients for whom DFO therapy is contraindicated or inadequate. Preliminary evidences suggest that Deferiprone may be more effective than DFO in chelating cardiac iron. The side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms, liver dysfunction, joint pain, neutropenia and agranulocytosis. A weekly assessment of white blood cell counts is recommended because of the risk of agranulocytosis. Deferasirox is a new, convenient, once-daily oral iron chelator that has demonstrated in various clinical trials good efficacy and acceptable safety profile in adult and pediatric patients affected by transfusion-dependent thalassemia major and by different chronic anemias (SCD, BDA, MDS). The long half-life of Deferasirox (16-18 hours) provides sustained 24 hr iron chelation coverage. The efficacy and safety profile have been evaluated in more than 1000 patients in clinical trials allowing FDA registration. Patient satisfaction with Deferasirox was superior than with DFO therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-674
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Molecular Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Deferasirox
  • Deferiprone
  • Desferrioxamine
  • Iron chelation
  • Iron intake
  • Iron Overload
  • Labile Iron
  • Non transferring-bound-iron (NTBI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Current status in iron chelation in hemoglobinopathies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this