Management of transfusional iron overload – differential properties and efficacy of iron chelating agents
Janet L Kwiatkowski
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Division of Hematology and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Abstract: Regular red cell transfusion therapy ameliorates disease-related morbidity and can be lifesaving in patients with various hematological disorders. Transfusion therapy, however, causes progressive iron loading, which, if untreated, results in endocrinopathies, cardiac arrhythmias and congestive heart failure, hepatic fibrosis, and premature death. Iron chelation therapy is used to prevent iron loading, remove excess accumulated iron, detoxify iron, and reverse some of the iron-related complications. Three chelators have undergone extensive testing to date: deferoxamine, deferasirox, and deferiprone (although the latter drug is not currently licensed for use in North America where it is available only through compassionate use programs and research protocols). These chelators differ in their modes of administration, pharmacokinetics, efficacy with regard to organ-specific iron removal, and adverse-effect profiles. These differential properties influence acceptability, tolerability and adherence to therapy, and, ultimately, the effectiveness of treatment. Chelation therapy, therefore, must be individualized, taking into account patient preferences, toxicities, ongoing transfusional iron intake, and the degree of cardiac and hepatic iron loading.
Keywords: transfusion, iron, chelation, magnetic resonance imaging
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