Main Article Content
Anemia, Thalassemia, Iron overload, Endocrinopathies,
Abstract. Introduction: It is well known that the older generation of adult TM patients has a higher incidence of morbidities and co-morbidities. At present, little information is available on adult TM patients with multiple endocrine complications (MEC). The main objectives of this longitudinal retrospective survey were: 1) to establish the incidence and progression of MEC (3 or more) in TM patients; 2) to compare the clinical, laboratory and imaging data to a sex and age-matched group of TM patients without MEC; 3) to assess the influence of iron overload represented by serum ferritin (peak and mean annual value at the last endocrine observation).
Patients and Methods: The study was started in January 1974 and was completed by the same physician at the end of December 2015. The registry database of the regularly followed TM patients from diagnosis included 145 adults (> 18 years). All TM patients were of Italian ethnic origin. Eleven out of 145 patients (7.5 %) developed MEC. Twenty-four other patients (12 females and 12 males) had a normal endocrine function (16.5 %) and served as controls.
Results: In our survey, four important, relevant aspects emerged in the MEC group. These included the late age at the start of chelation therapy with desferrioxamine mesylate (DFO); the higher serum ferritin peak (8521.8 ± 5958.9 vs 3575.2± 1801.4 ng/ml ); the higher percentage of splenectomized (81.8 % vs. 28.5%) patients and poor compliance registered mainly during the peripubertal and pubertal age (72.7 % vs.16.6 %) in TM patients developing MEC versus those without endocrine complications. Furthermore, a negative correlation was observed in all TM patients between LIC and final height (r: -0.424; p= 0.031).
Conclusions: Our study supports the view that simultaneous involvement of more than one endocrine gland is not uncommon (7.5 %). It mainly occurred in TM patients who started chelation therapy with DFO late in life and who had irregular/poor compliance to treatment. Therefore, prevention of the endocrine complications through adopting early and regular chelation therapy appears mandatory for improving the quality of life and psychological outcome of these patients. When diagnosing and managing patients with MEC, it is of paramount importance that the multidisciplinary team have excellent knowledge relating to these complications. In ideal circumstances an endocrinologist with experience of TM will form part of the regular multidisciplinary team caring for such patients.