Non-transfusion-dependent thalassemias

Haematologica. 2013 Jun;98(6):833-44. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2012.066845.


Non-transfusion-dependent thalassemias include a variety of phenotypes that, unlike patients with beta (β)-thalassemia major, do not require regular transfusion therapy for survival. The most commonly investigated forms are β-thalassemia intermedia, hemoglobin E/β-thalassemia, and α-thalassemia intermedia (hemoglobin H disease). However, transfusion-independence in such patients is not without side effects. Ineffective erythropoiesis and peripheral hemolysis, the hallmarks of disease process, lead to a variety of subsequent pathophysiologies including iron overload and hypercoagulability that ultimately lead to a number of serious clinical morbidities. Thus, prompt and accurate diagnosis of non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia is essential to ensure early intervention. Although several management options are currently available, the need to develop more novel therapeutics is justified by recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of disease. Such efforts require wide international collaboration, especially since non-transfusion-dependent thalassemias are no longer bound to low- and middle-income countries but have spread to large multiethnic cities in Europe and the Americas due to continued migration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Transfusion
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Thalassemia / diagnosis
  • Thalassemia / etiology*
  • Thalassemia / therapy*