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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hydroxyurea and sodium phenylbutyrate therapy in thalassemia intermedia.

Hydroxyurea (HU) and sodium phenylbutyrate (SPB) have been shown to increase fetal hemoglobin (Hb F) levels in patients with thalassemia intermedia. The reported effects of these agents in increasing total Hb, however, have been inconsistent and there have been no studies on the combination of these medications. We describe the clinical response, as determined by increases in total Hb and decreased transfusion needs, in five patients with thalassemia intermedia treated with HU alone or in combination with SPB. All of the patients responded with increased levels of Hb F, but the responses in total Hb varied. Of the five patients, two had a marked response in total Hb in excess of 3 g/dl, two responded modestly with an increase in total Hb of 1-2 g/dl, and one did not respond. Prolonged responses were achieved with low doses of HU (3-10 mg/kg/day) and higher doses were associated with mild reversible hematologic or hepatic toxicity and no further increases in Hb. Sodium phenylbutyrate was added to treatment with HU in two patients, but failed to produce an increase in total Hb despite increasing Hb F levels. Of the four patients who responded to HU with an increase in total Hb, all reported symptomatic improvement and three have not required further transfusions. We conclude that low-dose HU therapy in patients with thalassemia intermedia may increase total Hb levels sufficiently to eliminate the need for transfusions. We, therefore, recommend a trial of HU for thalassemia intermedia patients in whom chronic transfusion therapy is being contemplated.[1]


  1. Hydroxyurea and sodium phenylbutyrate therapy in thalassemia intermedia. Hoppe, C., Vichinsky, E., Lewis, B., Foote, D., Styles, L. Am. J. Hematol. (1999) [Pubmed]
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