Iron overload impairs proliferation of erythroid progenitors cells (BFU-E) from patients with myelodysplastic syndromes

Leuk Res. 2013 Mar;37(3):327-32. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2012.11.005. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


In patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) iron overload caused by long-term red blood cell transfusions is an important factor for comorbidity especially in low-risk MDS. In this report we present the results of a comparative study based on colony formation assays of hematopoietic cells in MDS patients with and without iron overload. We demonstrate that iron overload suppresses the proliferation of erythroid progenitors cells (BFU-E), while the myeloid compartment (CFU-GM) was not found to be affected. Even patients with slightly elevated ferritin values show an impaired proliferation capacity in comparison to patients with normal ferritin levels. Furthermore, we show that this negative impact is reversible by sufficient iron chelation therapy.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Benzoates / pharmacology
  • Benzoates / therapeutic use
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Proliferation* / drug effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • Deferasirox
  • Erythroid Precursor Cells / pathology
  • Erythroid Precursor Cells / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Iron Overload / complications
  • Iron Overload / drug therapy
  • Iron Overload / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / complications
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / pathology*
  • Triazoles / pharmacology
  • Triazoles / therapeutic use


  • Benzoates
  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Triazoles
  • Deferasirox