Iron status and treatment modalities in transfusion-dependent patients with myelodysplastic syndromes

Michel Delforge, Dominik Selleslag, Agnès Triffet, Philippe Mineur, Greet Bries, Carlos Graux, Fabienne Trullemans, Karen MacDonald, Ivo Abraham, Wim Pluymers, Christophe Ravoet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Transfusion dependency and iron overload are common among patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) treated with red blood cell (RBC) transfusions. Transfusion dependency is associated with leukemic progression and shorter survival. Guidelines recommend iron chelation therapy to manage iron overload, however little is known about the chelation patterns in daily clinical practice. The objective of this multicenter, retrospective, cross-sectional, observational study was to evaluate iron status and its management in transfusion-dependent MDS patients. A total of 193 patient records from 29 centers were eligible for inclusion. Median patient age was 76, and median age at diagnosis of MDS was 74. Patients had received an average of 13.4±7.6 RBC units in the past 4 months; 44% had received more than 50 units since their MDS diagnosis. Medium serum ferritin was 1,550 μg/L. Ninety patients (46.6%) received iron chelation therapy with either deferoxamine (41%), deferasirox (36%), and deferoxamine followed by deferasirox (23%). There were no statistically significant differences between chelated and nonchelated patients in terms of International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS), French-American- British (FAB), and/or World Health Organization (WHO) status, though chelated patients had received more RBC transfusions (p=0.014). Iron chelation therapy may be underutilized in transfusion-dependent patients. Undertreatment can be reduced by complementing sound clinical judgment with the generally accepted guidelines of a serum ferritin level >1,000 μg/L and/or two or more RBC transfusions per month for the past year; considering patients on the basis of their IPSS, FAB, and/or WHO status; and individually tailored treatment regimens. Prospective randomized trials are necessary to establish causally the efficacy of iron chelation therapy in MDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-666
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Hematology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Chelation therapy
  • Iron overload
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Transfusion
  • Transfusion dependency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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