Effects of desferrioxamine therapy on chronic disease anemia associated with rheumatoid arthritis

C. Salvarani, R. Baricchi, D. Lasagni, L. Boiardi, R. Piccinini, C. Brunati, P. Macchioni, I. Portioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To investigate the effects of desferrioxamine (DFO) infusion on chronic disease anemia (CDA) of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by evaluating interleukin-6 (IL-6) and erythropoietin (EPO) production. Patients and methods. Five patients with RA and CDA (group I) were treated with DFO, 500 mg daily, through a continuous 10-h subcutaneous infusion 5 days a week for 4 weeks. One month after withdrawal, DFO was resumed in all five group I patients (group II) with an increase to 1 g daily following the previous treatment schedule. Clinical and laboratory parameters were evaluated weekly during the two study periods. Serum EPO was measured by radioimmunoassay. IL-6 was detected by the enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay method. Results. No significant variations in hematological parameters, IL-6 or EPO levels were observed in group I patients. After 1 week of DFO 1 g daily, reticulocyte counts and EPO improved significantly. Hemoglobin and hematocrit rose significantly after 3 weeks of 1 g daily DFO therapy. Four weeks after DFO withdrawal, EPO, reticulocyte counts, hemoglobin and hematocrit returned to baseline levels. A significant improvement in the clinical parameters of disease activity was observed, particularly in group II patients. Conclusion. DFO improves CDA in RA patients. The beneficial effects on erythropoiesis seem to be related to improved EPO responsiveness to the anemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-48
Number of pages4
JournalRheumatology International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Chronic disease anemia
  • Desferrioxamine therapy
  • Erythropoietin
  • Interleukin-6
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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