Endocrine Dysfunction in Diamond-Blackfan Anemia (DBA): A Report from the DBA Registry (DBAR)

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2016 Feb;63(2):306-12. doi: 10.1002/pbc.25780. Epub 2015 Oct 23.


Background: Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) is a rare inherited bone marrow failure syndrome. The mainstays of treatment involve chronic red cell transfusions, long-term glucocorticoid therapy, and stem cell transplantation. Systematic data concerning endocrine function in DBA are limited. We studied patients in the DBA Registry (DBAR) of North America to assess the prevalence of various endocrinopathies.

Procedure: In a pilot study, retrospective data were collected for 12 patients with DBA. Subsequently, patients with DBA aged 1-39 years were recruited prospectively. Combined, 57 patients were studied; 38 chronically transfused, 12 glucocorticoid-dependent, and seven in remission. Data were collected on anthropometric measurements, systematic screening of pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreatic, and gonadal function, and ferritin levels. Descriptive statistics were tabulated and group differences were assessed.

Results: Fifty-three percent of patients had ≥ 1 endocrine disorder, including adrenal insufficiency (32%), hypogonadism (29%), hypothyroidism (14%), growth hormone dysfunction (7%), diabetes mellitus (2%), and/or diabetes insipidus (2%). Ten of the 33 patients with available heights had height standard deviation less than -2. Low 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OH)D) levels were present in 50%. A small proportion also had osteopenia, osteoporosis, or hypercalciuria. Most with adrenal insufficiency were glucocorticoid dependent; other endocrinopathies were more common in chronically transfused patients.

Conclusions: Endocrine dysfunction is common in DBA, as early as the teenage years. Although prevalence is highest in transfused patients, patients taking glucocorticoids or in remission also have endocrine dysfunction. Longitudinal studies are needed to better understand the etiology and true prevalence of these disorders.

Keywords: adrenal insufficiency; growth; hypogonadism; iron overload; osteoporosis; vitamin D deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Diamond-Blackfan / complications*
  • Anemia, Diamond-Blackfan / therapy
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endocrine System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Glucocorticoids