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Review
. 2017 Jul 1;148(1):6-15.
doi: 10.1093/ajcp/aqx047.

Molecular Diagnosis of Thalassemias and Hemoglobinopathies: An ACLPS Critical Review

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Review

Molecular Diagnosis of Thalassemias and Hemoglobinopathies: An ACLPS Critical Review

Daniel E Sabath. Am J Clin Pathol. .

Abstract

Objectives: To describe the use of molecular diagnostic techniques for patients with hemoglobin disorders.

Methods: A clinical scenario is presented in which molecular diagnosis is important for genetic counseling. Globin disorders, techniques for their diagnosis, and the role of molecular genetic testing in managing patients with these disorders are described in detail.

Results: Hemoglobin disorders, including thalassemias and hemoglobinopathies, are among the commonest genetic diseases, and the clinical laboratory is essential for the diagnosis of patients with these abnormalities. Most disorders can be diagnosed with protein-based techniques such as electrophoresis and chromatography. Since severe syndromes can result due to inheritance of combinations of globin genetic disorders, genetic counseling is important to prevent adverse outcomes. Protein-based methods cannot always detect potentially serious thalassemia disorders; in particular, α-thalassemia may be masked in the presence of β-thalassemia. Deletional forms of β-thalassemia are also sometimes difficult to diagnose definitively with standard methods.

Conclusions: Molecular genetic testing serves an important role in identifying individuals carrying thalassemia traits that can cause adverse outcomes in offspring. Furthermore, prenatal genetic testing can identify fetuses with severe globin phenotypes.

Keywords: Genetic counseling; Hemoglobinopathy; Molecular diagnosis; Thalassemia.

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