Chelation therapy for iron overload

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2007 Mar;9(1):74-82. doi: 10.1007/s11894-008-0024-9.


Iron overload is characterized by excessive iron deposition and consequent injury and dysfunction of the heart, liver, anterior pituitary, pancreas, and joints. Because physiologic mechanisms to excrete iron are very limited, patients with iron overload and its complications need safe, effective therapy that is compatible with their coexisting medical conditions. The availability of three licensed iron chelation drugs (one parenteral, two oral) and the development and clinical investigation of other oral chelators represent new opportunities to prevent or manage iron overload in patients with heritable types of severe anemia, such as beta-thalassemia major and sickle cell disease, and for the formulation of alternatives to phlebotomy therapy for patients with iron overload associated with the HFE gene and other adult age-of-onset types of hemochromatosis, African iron overload, and African-American iron overload.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / complications
  • Anemia / drug therapy
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / drug therapy
  • Benzoates / therapeutic use
  • Chelation Therapy*
  • Deferasirox
  • Deferiprone
  • Deferoxamine / therapeutic use
  • Hemochromatosis / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Iron Overload / diagnosis
  • Iron Overload / drug therapy*
  • Iron Overload / etiology
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / drug therapy
  • Pyridones / therapeutic use
  • Triazoles / therapeutic use
  • beta-Thalassemia / complications
  • beta-Thalassemia / drug therapy


  • Benzoates
  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Pyridones
  • Triazoles
  • Deferiprone
  • Deferoxamine
  • Deferasirox