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

A short-term trial of butyrate to stimulate fetal-globin-gene expression in the beta-globin disorders.

BACKGROUND. Fetal-globin (gamma-globin) chains inhibit the polymerization of hemoglobin S (sickle hemoglobin) and can functionally substitute for the beta-globin chains that are defective or absent in patients with the beta-thalassemias. Identifying safe mechanisms to stimulate fetal-hemoglobin production is therefore of great interest. Previous studies have shown that administering butyrate selectively stimulates the promoter of the human fetal-globin gene and leads to increases in gamma-globin--gene expression in the developing fetus, cultured cells, and animal models. METHODS. To determine whether butyrate can stimulate fetal-globin production in humans, we treated three patients (3 to 13 years old) with sickle cell anemia and three patients (7 to 27 years old) with beta-thalassemia syndromes with a short course of intravenous infusions of arginine butyrate. The drug was infused continuously for either two or three weeks; the initial dose was 500 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. Globin-chain ratios, proportions of reticulocytes producing hemoglobin F (F reticulocytes), and levels of gamma-globin messenger RNA (mRNA) were determined before and during treatment. RESULTS. In all six patients, fetal-globin synthesis increased by 6 to 45 percent above pretreatment levels (P < 0.01). The proportion of F reticulocytes increased about twofold, and the level of gamma-globin mRNA increased twofold to sixfold. The increase in gamma-globin synthesis led to improvement in the globin-chain ratios in the patients with thalassemia. The treatment of one patient was extended for seven weeks, and her hemoglobin level increased from 4.7 to 10.2 g per deciliter (2.9 to 6.3 mmol per liter). Side effects were minimal; one patient had a transient increase in serum aminotransferase concentrations. CONCLUSIONS. In patients with beta-hemoglobinopathies butyrate, a natural fatty acid, can significantly and rapidly increase fetal-globin production to levels that can ameliorate beta-globin disorders. Further trials of this class of compounds are warranted to determine long-term tolerance and efficacy in patients with sickle cell anemia or beta-thalassemia.[1]

References

  1. A short-term trial of butyrate to stimulate fetal-globin-gene expression in the beta-globin disorders. Perrine, S.P., Ginder, G.D., Faller, D.V., Dover, G.H., Ikuta, T., Witkowska, H.E., Cai, S.P., Vichinsky, E.P., Olivieri, N.F. N. Engl. J. Med. (1993) [Pubmed]
 
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