A magnetic resonance imaging study of iron overload in hemopoietic stem cell transplant recipients with increased ferritin levels

Transplant Proc. 2007 Dec;39(10):3369-74. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2007.09.027.


We performed a study of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assessment of hemosiderosis in the heart (T2/T2*), liver (T2*), pancreas (T2*), and pituitary gland (T2/T2*/SIR) in 20 hemopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients (median peak ferritin levels 7615 pmol/L, range 3411 to 33000 pmol/L). MRI reading was abnormal in the heart (5%), liver (85%), pancreas (40%), and pituitary gland (55%). The heart T2 correlated with peak ferritin levels (P=.024), while the liver T2* correlated with current ferritin (P=.038) values only. Pancreatic T2* values correlated with pituitary T2 and signal intensity ratio values. The ejection fraction was abnormal in 10% of cases and did not correlate with ferritin level or heart T2. The peak liver enzymes correlated with peak ferritin (P=.025), but the current liver enzymes were mostly normal. Pancreatic assessments (fasting glucose, insulin, beta cell function, insulin reserve, and C-peptide) and pituitary growth hormone axis assessments (growth hormone, insulin growth factor-1, and insulin growth factor binding protein-3) were abnormal in 40% to 70% of cases. They were unrelated to pancreas or pituitary MRI values. Interestingly, endocrine assessments correlated with heart T2 values and peak (but not current) ferritin levels. We concluded that iron overload may contribute to organ damage after HSCT, and MRI assessment may be useful in its detection and treatment monitoring.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Aplastic / pathology
  • Anemia, Aplastic / therapy
  • Female
  • Ferritins / metabolism*
  • Heart Diseases / pathology
  • Heart Diseases / therapy
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Hemosiderosis / pathology
  • Hemosiderosis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Iron Overload / etiology*
  • Leukemia / pathology
  • Leukemia / therapy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Myelofibrosis / pathology
  • Primary Myelofibrosis / therapy
  • Transplantation, Homologous / physiology


  • Ferritins