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Influence of iron chelators on myocardial iron and cardiac function in transfusion-dependent thalassaemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Iron chelators have dramatically prolonged the life expectancy of patients with transfusion-dependent thalassaemia, but their precise clinical benefit in reducing the myocardial iron burden and improving cardiac function is unknown. This systematic review and meta-analysis included published clinical trials that assessed the efficacy of iron chelators in regularly transfused patients of thalassaemia major for two commonly reported outcomes – myocardial iron content and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). The meta-analysis of 392 patients for myocardial iron content and 291 patients for LVEF showed that (i) iron chelators reduced cardiac iron content by 23.9% (95% confidence interval 17.3-29.8%); (ii) there was no significant difference between the amount of iron reduced by deferoxamine and deferiprone (P = 0.9504); and (iii) LVEF was not significantly influenced by iron chelators – summary Hedges g 0.13 (95% confidence interval -0.10-0.36). A significant publication bias existed for LVEF (Eggers P = 0.049) but not for myocardial iron (Eggers P = 0.871). Our results indicate that iron chelators significantly reduce myocardial iron content. Further, the choice of deferoxamine versus deferiprone may rest on factors other than their efficacy to reduce cardiac iron load.
Br J Haematol. 2008;141:882-90.

By: Mamtani M, Kulkarni H

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