Challenges in chronic transfusion for patients with thalassemia.
ABSTRACT: The introduction of regular red cell transfusions 60 years ago transformed ?-thalassemia major from a fatal childhood illness into a chronic disorder. Further advances in the prevention of transfusion-transmitted infections and management of iron overload have allowed survival and quality of life to approach normal. However, transfusion therapy for some other thalassemia syndromes continues to challenge clinical decision-making. Nearly one-half of the patients with E ß thalassemia are transfusion-dependent, yet the criteria for initiating transfusions or hemoglobin targets are not well defined. Patients with thalassemia intermedia who begin transfusions as adults are at very high risk for developing red cell alloimmunization and serious hemolytic transfusion reactions. In the growing number of survivors of Bart hydrops fetalis, the approach to transfusion therapy and iron chelation is rapidly evolving. A collaboration between hematology and transfusion medicine specialists will be essential to improving patient care and developing evidence-based guidelines.
Project description:Transfusion therapy remains a mainstay of treatment for patients with thalassemia major and to a lesser extent for the less anemic patients with thalassemia intermedia. We have previously reported a role for regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the control of antibody responses in wild-type C57BL/6 (WT) mice exposed to allogeneic red blood cell transfusions. As an initial step to study and characterize immune regulation in thalassemias, we performed an immunologic cell-type characterization of C57BL/6 Hbb(th-1)/Hbb(th-1) mouse model of thalassemia intermedia (Thal) in steady state as well as after transfusions with allogeneic blood.The myeloid and lymphocyte compartments including Tregs and T helper (Th) responses were analyzed in transfusion naive Thal and WT mouse spleens. The effect of allogeneic transfusions on Treg and global T helper responses was also measured.We found elevated levels and activity of splenic Tregs in Thal mice with lower Th type 1/Th type 2 ratios before as well as after transfusion. Furthermore, pretransfused Thal mice had altered ratios of the splenic myeloid compartment with increased proportion of macrophages but lower frequency of conventional dendritic cells. Surprisingly, transfusions resulted in lower alloimmunization levels in Thal compared to WT mice.These data suggest that this experimental model of thalassemia intermedia has an intrinsic alteration in splenic immunoregulation with an increased resistance to alloimmunization, raising the possibility that studying this animal model may help to identify potential immunoregulatory networks to inhibit alloimmunization.
Project description:Chronically transfused patients with thalassemia are at risk for red cell alloimmunization. No studies have specifically examined alloimmunization after implementation of prophylactic Rh (D, C, E) and K matched red cells in a racially diverse population of thalassemia patients and donors. This retrospective study examined Rh antibodies among 40 chronically transfused patients (Asian, White, Black, Indian, Middle Eastern) with thalassemia receiving a mean of 174 serologic prophylactic RhD, C, E, and K matched red cell units. We examined the patients' RH genotype, as well as donor race and Rh phenotypes over 3 transfusion events preceding antibody detection. Eighteen alloantibodies were detected in 13 of 40 patients (32.5%), with an alloimmunization rate of 0.26 antibodies per 100 units transfused. Thirteen antibodies (72.2%) were directed against Rh (5 anti-D, 4 anti-C, 2 anti-E, 1 anti-e, 1 anti-V), despite donor phenotypes that confirmed lack of transfusion of D, C, or E antigens to patients lacking the corresponding antigen(s). Ten of 40 patients had an altered RH genotype, but the Rh antibodies were not associated with patients with variant RH. Black donors with a known high frequency of RH variants provided 63% of the units transfused in the 3 visits preceding unexplained anti-Rh detection. Rh alloimmunization not explained by the thalassemia patients' RH genotype or the donors' serologic phenotype suggests more precise matching is needed, and the role of donor RH genotypes on alloimmunization should be explored. Extending Rh D, C, and E matching to include c and e would result in better-matched units and further minimize Rh alloimmunization.
Project description:Hereditary spherocytosis (HS) is the most common red blood cell (RBC) membrane disorder causing hereditary hemolytic anemia. Patients with HS have defects in the genes coding for ankyrin (<i>ANK1</i>), band 3 (<i>SLC4A1</i>), protein 4.2 (<i>EPB42</i>), and ? (<i>SPTA1</i>) or ?-spectrin (<i>SPTB</i>). Severe recessive HS is most commonly due to biallelic <i>SPTA1</i> mutations. ?-spectrin is produced in excess in normal erythroid cells, therefore <i>SPTA1</i>-associated HS ensues with mutations causing significant decrease of normal protein expression from both alleles. In this study, we systematically compared genetic, rheological, and protein expression data to the varying clinical presentation in eleven patients with <i>SPTA1</i>-associated HS. The phenotype of HS in this group of patients ranged from moderately severe to severe transfusion-dependent anemia and up to <i>hydrops fetalis</i> which is typically fatal if transfusions are not initiated before term delivery. The pathogenicity of the mutations could be corroborated by reduced <i>SPTA1</i> mRNA expression in the patients' reticulocytes. The disease severity correlated to the level of ?-spectrin protein in their RBC cytoskeleton but was also affected by other factors. Patients carrying the low expression ?<sup>LEPRA</sup> allele <i>in trans</i> to a null <i>SPTA1</i> mutation were not all transfusion dependent and their anemia improved or resolved with partial or total splenectomy, respectively. In contrast, patients with near-complete or complete ?-spectrin deficiency have a history of having been salvaged from fatal <i>hydrops fetalis</i>, either because they were born prematurely and started transfusions early or because they had intrauterine transfusions. They have suboptimal reticulocytosis or reticulocytopenia and remain transfusion dependent even after splenectomy; these patients require either lifetime transfusions and iron chelation or stem cell transplant. Comprehensive genetic and phenotypic evaluation is critical to provide accurate diagnosis in patients with <i>SPTA1</i>-associated HS and guide toward appropriate management.
Project description:?-Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder resulting from defects in hemoglobin production, leading to premature death of red blood cells (RBCs) or their precursors. Patients with transfusion-dependent ?-thalassemia often need lifelong regular RBC transfusions to maintain adequate hemoglobin levels. Frequent transfusions may lead to iron overload and organ damage. Thus, there is a large unmet need for alternative therapies. Luspatercept, a first-in-class erythroid maturation agent, is the first approved therapy in the United States for the treatment of anemia in adult patients with ?-thalassemia who require regular RBC transfusions. The population pharmacokinetics and exposure-response relationship of luspatercept were evaluated in 285 patients with ?-thalassemia. Luspatercept displayed linear and time-invariant pharmacokinetics when administered subcutaneously once every 3 weeks. Body weight was the only clinically relevant covariate of luspatercept clearance, favoring weight-based dosing. Magnitude and frequency of hemoglobin increase, if not influenced by RBC transfusions, was positively correlated with luspatercept area under the serum concentration-time curve (AUC), 0.2-1.25 mg/kg, whereas a significant reduction in RBC units transfused was observed in frequently transfused patients. The probability of achieving ?33% or ?50% reduction in RBC transfusion burden was similar across the time-averaged AUC (0.6-1.25 mg/kg), with the 1 mg/kg starting dose sufficient for most early responders (71%-80%). Increasing luspatercept AUC (0.2-1.25 mg/kg) did not increase incidence or severity of treatment-emergent adverse events. These results provide a positive benefit-risk profile for the recommended luspatercept doses (1-1.25 mg/kg) in treating adult patients with ?-thalassemia who require regular RBC transfusions.
Project description:?-Thalassemias are characterized by reduced production of ?-globin chain, resulting in ?/?-chain unbalance and precipitation of ?-globin-heme complexes and determining ineffective erythropoiesis. Ineffective erythropoiesis, chronic hemolytic anemia, and compensatory hematopoietic expansion are the disease hallmarks, and they are related to the severity of the chain unbalance. Several clinical forms of ?-thalassemia, including the coinheritance of ?-thalassemia with hemoglobin E resulting in hemoglobin E/?-thalassemia, have been described. Clinically, ?-thalassemias can be classified as transfusion-dependent thalassemia (TDT) and non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) according to the severity of the phenotype, which is caused by a wide spectrum of mutations in a homozygous or compound heterozygous state. Current treatment of TDT consists of regular transfusions that lead to iron overload, requiring iron chelation to prevent iron-related organ toxicity. NTDT patients do not require transfusions or only occasionally require them; however, they develop iron overload as well because of increased intestinal iron absorption caused by chronic anemia. Hematopoietic stem cell allogenic transplant is the only approved cure for ?-thalassemia; however, it is still limited by clinical conditions and the availability of matched donors as well as by potential graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Gene therapy could avoid the GVHD risk, although hematopoietic stem cells must be genetically modified ex vivo. Epigenetic manipulation and genomic editing are novel experimental approaches. An increased understanding of the pathophysiology that controls the disease process prompted us to explore alternative therapeutic approaches that address the underlying chain unbalance, ineffective erythropoiesis, and iron dysregulation. Molecules, such as JAK2 inhibitors and the activin-receptor ligand trap that target ineffective erythropoiesis, are already in clinical trials with promising results. Other agents aimed to generate iron-restricted erythropoiesis are also under experimental evaluation.
Project description:Transfusion of red blood cells (RBCs) is frequently required for care of individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD). Alloimmunization rates are high and may be reduced by matching for RBC antigens that can cause alloimmunization.During the PROACTIVE Feasibility Study, patients with SCD age 2 years or older admitted for pain without acute chest syndrome were enrolled for possible randomization to preventive blood transfusion or standard care. Transfusion and antibody histories were obtained at each site, and antibody screening was done, to assess transfusion burden and alloimmunization prevalence. Participating sites were surveyed regarding antigen matching practice.A total of 237 patients (169 SS, 42 SC, 15 S?(0) -thalassemia, 11 S?(+) -thalassemia), 118 males and 119 females, were enrolled. Mean age was 19.3 years (range, 2.0-68.0); there were 122 children and 115 adults. A total of 75.8% had received at least a single transfusion of RBCs before the study. Thirty-four patients (14.4%) had a history of at least one alloantibody and 17 of these had more than one. When surveyed, 19 sites (83% of responders) reported antigen matching to at least include C, E, and K for transfusion of all patients with SCD.Though antigen typing before transfusion of people with SCD and providing antigen-negative units is now widely employed by sickle cell centers, the alloimmunization rate remains quite high in contemporary sickle cell populations and may be due in large part to transfusions received at institutions not providing extended matching.
Project description:The main characteristic of the pathophysiology of β-thalassemia is reduced β-globin chain production. The inevitable imbalance in the α/β-globin ratio and α-globin accumulation lead to oxidative stress in the erythroid lineage, apoptosis, and ineffective erythropoiesis. The result is compensatory hematopoietic expansion and impaired hepcidin production that causes increased intestinal iron absorption and progressive iron overload. Chronic hemolysis and red blood cell transfusions also contribute to iron tissue deposition. A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms led to the detection of new curative or "disease-modifying" therapeutic options. Substantial evolvement has been made in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation with current clinical trials investigating new condition regimens as well as different donors and stem cell source options. Gene therapy has also moved forward, and phase 2 clinical trials with the use of β-globin insertion techniques have recently been successfully completed leading to approval for use in transfusion-dependent patients. Genetic and epigenetic manipulation of the γ- or β-globin gene have entered the clinical trial setting. Agents such as TGF-β ligand traps and pyruvate kinase activators, which reduce the ineffective erythropoiesis, have been tested in clinical trials with favorable results. One TGF-β ligand trap, luspatercept, has been approved for use in adults with transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia. The induction of HbF with the phosphodiesterase 9 inhibitor IMR-687, which increase cyclic guanosine monophosphate, is currently being tested. Another therapeutic approach is to target the dysregulation of iron homeostasis, using, for example, hepcidin agonists (inhibitors of TMPRSS6 and minihepcidins) or ferroportin inhibitors (VIT-2763). This review provides an update on the novel therapeutic options that are presently in development at the clinical level in β-thalassemia.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Red cell transfusions remain a mainstay of therapy for patients with sickle cell disease (SCD), but pose significant clinical challenges. Guidance for specific indications and administration of transfusion, as well as screening, prevention, and management of alloimmunization, delayed hemolytic transfusion reactions (DHTRs), and iron overload may improve outcomes. OBJECTIVE:Our objective was to develop evidence-based guidelines to support patients, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals in their decisions about transfusion support for SCD and the management of transfusion-related complications. METHODS:The American Society of Hematology formed a multidisciplinary panel that was balanced to minimize bias from conflicts of interest and that included a patient representative. The panel prioritized clinical questions and outcomes. The Mayo Clinic Evidence-Based Practice Research Program supported the guideline development process. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach was used to form recommendations, which were subject to public comment. RESULTS:The panel developed 10 recommendations focused on red cell antigen typing and matching, indications, and mode of administration (simple vs red cell exchange), as well as screening, prevention, and management of alloimmunization, DHTRs, and iron overload. CONCLUSIONS:The majority of panel recommendations were conditional due to the paucity of direct, high-certainty evidence for outcomes of interest. Research priorities were identified, including prospective studies to understand the role of serologic vs genotypic red cell matching, the mechanism of HTRs resulting from specific alloantigens to inform therapy, the role and timing of regular transfusions during pregnancy for women, and the optimal treatment of transfusional iron overload in SCD.
Project description:?-thalassemia is a hereditary disorder with limited approved treatment options; patients experience anemia and its complications, including iron overload. The study aim was to determine whether luspatercept could improve anemia and disease complications in patients with ?-thalassemia. This open-label, nonrandomized, uncontrolled study consisted of a 24-week dose-finding and expansion stage (initial stage) and a 5-year extension stage, currently ongoing. Sixty-four patients were enrolled; 33 were non-transfusion dependent (mean hemoglobin, <10.0 g/dL; <4 red blood cell [RBC] units transfused per 8 weeks), and 31 were transfusion dependent (?4 RBC units per 8 weeks). Patients received 0.2 to 1.25 mg/kg luspatercept subcutaneously every 21 days for ?5 cycles (dose-finding stage) and 0.8 to 1.25 mg/kg (expansion cohort and 5-year extension). The primary end point was erythroid response, defined as hemoglobin increase of ?1.5 g/dL from baseline for ?14 consecutive days (without RBC transfusions) for non-transfusion-dependent patients or RBC transfusion burden reduction ?20% over a 12-week period vs the 12 weeks before treatment for transfusion-dependent patients. Eighteen non-transfusion-dependent patients (58%) receiving higher dose levels of luspatercept (0.6-1.25 mg/kg) achieved mean hemoglobin increase ?1.5 g/dL over ?14 days vs baseline. Twenty-six (81%) transfusion-dependent patients achieved ?20% reduction in RBC transfusion burden. The most common grade 1 to 2 adverse events were bone pain, headache, and myalgia. As of the cutoff, 33 patients remain on study. In this study, a high percentage of ?-thalassemia patients receiving luspatercept had hemoglobin or transfusion burden improvements. These findings support a randomized clinical trial to assess efficacy and safety. This study was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT01749540 and #NCT02268409.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Iron overload is the primary cause of morbidity in transfusion-dependent thalassemia. Increase in iron causes mitochondrial dysfunction under experimental conditions, but the occurrence and significance of mitochondrial damage is not understood in patients with thalassemia.<h4>Methods</h4>Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to nuclear DNA copy number (Mt/N) and frequency of the common 4977-bp mitochondrial deletion (ΔmtDNA<sup>4977</sup>) were quantified using a quantitative PCR assay on whole blood samples from 38 subjects with thalassemia who were receiving regular transfusions.<h4>Results</h4>Compared with healthy controls, Mt/N and ΔmtDNA<sup>4977</sup> frequency were elevated in thalassemia (<i>P</i> = 0.038 and <i>P</i> < 0.001, respectively). ΔmtDNA<sup>4977</sup> was increased in the presence of either liver iron concentration > 15 mg/g dry-weight or splenectomy, with the highest levels observed in subjects who had both risk factors (<i>P</i> = 0.003). Myocardial iron (MRI T2* < 20 ms) was present in 0%, 22%, and 46% of subjects with ΔmtDNA<sup>4977</sup> frequency < 20, 20-40, and > 40/1 × 10<sup>7</sup> mtDNA, respectively (<i>P</i> = 0.025). Subjects with Mt/N values below the group median had significantly lower Matsuda insulin sensitivity index (5.76 ± 0.53) compared with the high Mt/N group (9.11 ± 0.95, <i>P</i> = 0.008).<h4>Conclusion</h4>Individuals with transfusion-dependent thalassemia demonstrate age-related increase in mtDNA damage in leukocytes. These changes are markedly amplified by splenectomy and are associated with extrahepatic iron deposition. Elevated mtDNA damage in blood cells may predict the risk of iron-associated organ damage in thalassemia.