The correlation between ineffective erythropoiesis biomarkers and development of extramedullary hematopoiesis in patients with thalassemia

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Siriyakorn Chansai
Supawadee Yamsri
Supan Fucharoen
Goonnapa Fucharoen
Nattiya Teawtrakul


Ineffective erythropoiesis biomarkers, thalassemia, extramedullary erythropoiesis


Introduction: Extramedullary hematopoiesis (EMH) is one of the main complications in patients with thalassemia in compensation for the underlying ineffective erythropoiesis. This study aimed to evaluate the association between ineffective erythropoiesis biomarkers and EMH in patients with thalassemia.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of thalassemia patients aged >18 years old at Srinagarind Hospital was performed. Phosphatidylserine-exposed red blood cells (PS-exposed RBCs) were studied by flow cytometry. The levels of growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF15) and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) levels were determined using ELISA.

Results: One hundred and thirty-one patients were enrolled. EMH was found in 34 patients (26.0%). EMH was more prevalent among patients with β-thalassemia as compared to those with α-thalassemia (36.4% vs. 4.7%).  The levels of GDF15 and sTfR were different between the two groups and indicated a greater degree of ineffective erythropoiesis in β-thalassemia patients. The levels of PS-exposed RBCs showed a modest correlation with EMH. Advanced age and the PS-exposed RBC levels had a statistical significance associated with EMH.

Conclusions: Advanced age and high PS-exposed RBC levels are associated with EMH in thalassemia. PS-exposed RBCs showed a modest correlation with EMH and may be used to predict the development of EMH in thalassemia.


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