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This exploratory study assessed apoptosis in peripheral blood leucocytes (PBL) from β-thalassaemia patients receiving chronic transfusions and chelation therapy (deferasirox or deferoxamine) at baseline, 1, 6, and 12 months. At baseline, thalassaemic PBLs presented 50% greater levels of Bax (BAX), 75% higher caspase-3/7, 48% higher caspase-8 and 88% higher caspase-9 activities and 428% more nucleosomal DNA fragmentation than control subjects. Only neutrophils correlated significantly with apoptotic markers. Previously, we showed that over the treatment year, hepatic iron declined; we now show that the ratio of Bax/Bcl-2 (BCL2), (-27·3%/year), and caspase-9 activity (-13·3%/year) declined in both treatment groups, suggesting that chelation decreases body iron and indicators of PBL apoptosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Haematol

Publication Date





399 - 403


Adolescent, Adult, Apoptosis, Blood Transfusion, Caspases, Chelation Therapy, Child, Child, Preschool, DNA Fragmentation, Female, Humans, Leukocytes, Male, Young Adult, bcl-2-Associated X Protein, beta-Thalassemia