The Safety of Chelators for Iron Overload in Sickle Cell Disease: A Brief Systematic Review




Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of disorders that affects hemoglobin due to a mutation of the hemoglobin beta gene (HBB) on chromosome 11. Patients with SCD have atypical hemoglobin molecules called hemoglobinS (HbS), which distort erythrocytes into a “sickle-shape”. Typical symptoms of SCD include periodic episodes of pain, repeated infections, and anemia. This disorder is abundant in sub-Saharan African countries, the Mediterranean region, and also appears in some southern provinces in Turkey. Because of the high concentration of HbS in patients, a high risk of chronic anemia and vaso-occlusive events, such as stroke may deteriorate suddenly. In these conditions, transfusion of blood, especially erythrocytes, can be life-saving. However, chronic blood transfusions may lead to iron overload in SCD patients. Erythrocyte transfusion is associated with a higher risk in most patients with SCD than in the general population. Therefore, chelation therapy has become an important component of the transfusion program to prevent complications of iron accumulation in organs such as liver and heart. In this study, we sought to conduct a systematic review to assess the safety of iron chelating agents used by SCD patients with iron overload mainly due to necessary blood transfusion regime. Our evaluation revealed that in general iron chelation therapy, either deferasirox, deferoxamine or deferiprone, remains the most effective and safest available method to treat iron overload in SCD. Furthermore, current reports do not reflect any significant safety concerns against the use of available chelators.


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Radwan B, Boşgelmez İİ. The Safety of Chelators for Iron Overload in Sickle Cell Disease: A Brief Systematic Review. Acta Medica [Internet]. 2019 Sep. 30 [cited 2024 May 22];50(3):50-6. Available from: