Current status of beta-thalassemia and its treatment strategies

Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2021 Dec;9(12):e1788. doi: 10.1002/mgg3.1788. Epub 2021 Nov 5.


Background: Thalassemia is an inherited hematological disorder categorized by a decrease or absence of one or more of the globin chains synthesis. Beta-thalassemia is caused by one or more mutations in the beta-globin gene. The absence or reduced amount of beta-globin chains causes ineffective erythropoiesis which leads to anemia.

Methods: Beta-thalassemia has been further divided into three main forms: thalassemia major, intermedia, and minor/silent carrier. A more severe form among these is thalassemia major in which individuals depend upon blood transfusion for survival. The high level of iron deposition occurs due to regular blood transfusion therapy.

Results: Overloaded iron raises the synthesis of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are noxious and prompting the injury to the hepatic, endocrine, and vascular system. Thalassemia can be analyzed and diagnosed via prenatal testing (genetic testing of amniotic fluid), blood smear, complete blood count, and DNA analysis (genetic testing). Treatment of thalassemia intermediate is symptomatic; however; it can also be accomplished by folic supplementation and splenectomy.

Conclusion: Thalassemia major can be cured through regular transfusion of blood, transplantation of bone marrow, iron chelation management, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, stimulation of fetal hemoglobin production, and gene therapy.

Keywords: blood transfusion; chelation therapy; gene therapy; hemoglobin; iron overload; reactive oxygen species; splenectomy; thalassemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Genetic Testing
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • beta-Globins / genetics
  • beta-Thalassemia / complications
  • beta-Thalassemia / diagnosis*
  • beta-Thalassemia / etiology
  • beta-Thalassemia / therapy*


  • beta-Globins