A comparative study of hematological parameters of α and β thalassemias in a high prevalence zone: Saudi Arabia

Indian J Hum Genet. 2011 Sep;17(3):207-11. doi: 10.4103/0971-6866.92106.


Background and aims: Saudi Arabia falls in the high prevalent zone of αα and β thalassemias. Early screening for the type of thalassemia is essential for further investigations and management. The study was carried out to differentiate the type of thalassemia based on red cell indices and other hematological parameters.

Materials and methods: The study was carried out on 991 clinically suspected cases of thalassemias in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The hematological parameters were studied on Coulter STKS. Cellulose acetate hemoglobin electrophoresis and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) were performed on all the blood samples. Gene deletion studies were carried out by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) technique using the restriction endonucleases Bam HI.

Statistical analysis: Statistical analysis was performed on SPSS 11.5 version.

Results: The hemoglobin electrophoresis and gene studies revealed that there were 406 (40.96%) and 59 (5.95 %) cases of β thalassemia trait and β thalassemia major respectively including adults and children. 426 cases of various deletion forms of α thalassemias were seen. Microcytosis was a common feature in β thalassemias trait and (-α/-α) and (--/αα) types of α thalassemias. MCH was a more significant distinguishing feature among thalassemias. β thalassemia major and α thalassemia (-α/αα) had almost normal hematological parameters.

Conclusion: MCV and RBC counts are not statistically significant features for discriminating between α and β thalassemias. There is need for development of a discrimination index to differentiate between α and β thalassemias traits on the lines of discriminatory Indices available for distinguishing β thalassemias trait from iron deficiency anemia.

Keywords: Discriminatory index; Saudi Arabia; hematological parameters; thalassemia.