Annals of Hematology

, Volume 90, Issue 6, pp 655–666 | Cite as

Iron status and treatment modalities in transfusion-dependent patients with myelodysplastic syndromes

  • Michel Delforge
  • Dominik Selleslag
  • Agnès Triffet
  • Philippe Mineur
  • Greet Bries
  • Carlos Graux
  • Fabienne Trullemans
  • Karen MacDonald
  • Ivo Abraham
  • Wim Pluymers
  • Christophe Ravoet
Original Article


Transfusion dependency and iron overload are common among patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) treated with red blood cell (RBC) transfusions. Transfusion dependency is associated with leukemic progression and shorter survival. Guidelines recommend iron chelation therapy to manage iron overload, however little is known about the chelation patterns in daily clinical practice. The objective of this multicenter, retrospective, cross-sectional, observational study was to evaluate iron status and its management in transfusion-dependent MDS patients. A total of 193 patient records from 29 centers were eligible for inclusion. Median patient age was 76, and median age at diagnosis of MDS was 74. Patients had received an average of 13.4 ± 7.6 RBC units in the past 4 months; 44% had received more than 50 units since their MDS diagnosis. Medium serum ferritin was 1,550 μg/L. Ninety patients (46.6%) received iron chelation therapy with either deferoxamine (41%), deferasirox (36%), and deferoxamine followed by deferasirox (23%). There were no statistically significant differences between chelated and nonchelated patients in terms of International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS), French-American-British (FAB), and/or World Health Organization (WHO) status, though chelated patients had received more RBC transfusions (p = 0.014). Iron chelation therapy may be underutilized in transfusion-dependent patients. Undertreatment can be reduced by complementing sound clinical judgment with the generally accepted guidelines of a serum ferritin level >1,000 μg/L and/or two or more RBC transfusions per month for the past year; considering patients on the basis of their IPSS, FAB, and/or WHO status; and individually tailored treatment regimens. Prospective randomized trials are necessary to establish causally the efficacy of iron chelation therapy in MDS.


Myelodysplastic syndromes Transfusion Transfusion dependency Iron overload Chelation therapy 



This study was sponsored by Novartis Pharma. The authors thank the other investigators in this study, as well as their staff: Marc André, Charleroi; Yves Beguin, Liège; Dominique Boulet, Mons; Dimitri Breems, Antwerpen; Randal D’Dondt, Oostende ; Robrecht De Bock, Wilrijk ; Dries Deeren, Roeselare ; Anne Deweweire, Baudour ; André Efira, Brussel; Walter Feremans, Bruxelles; Augustin Ferrant, Woluwe; Kurt Geldhof, Ieper; Jan Lemmens, Wilrijk; Lucien Noens, Gent; Marjan Petrick, Gent; Pascal Pierre, Arlon; Ann Van de Velde, Edegem; Koen Van Eygen, Kortrijk; Steven Van Steenweghen, Liège; Wim Wynendaele, Bonheiden; all in Belgium. The authors also thank Erin Arizmendi for her editorial, proofreading, and administrative assistance.

Disclosures of conflicts of interest

All authors completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form for potential conflicts of interest. W. Pluymers is an employee of Novartis Pharma. Abraham and K. MacDonald are employees of Matrix45. By company policy, they are prohibited from owning equity in client organizations (except through mutual funds or other independent collective investment instruments) or contracting independently with client organizations. Matrix45 provides similar services to other biopharmaceutical companies on a nonexclusivity basis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michel Delforge
    • 1
  • Dominik Selleslag
    • 2
  • Agnès Triffet
    • 3
  • Philippe Mineur
    • 4
  • Greet Bries
    • 5
  • Carlos Graux
    • 6
  • Fabienne Trullemans
    • 7
  • Karen MacDonald
    • 8
  • Ivo Abraham
    • 8
    • 9
  • Wim Pluymers
    • 10
  • Christophe Ravoet
    • 11
  1. 1.Universitaire Ziekenhuizen LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Algemeen Ziekenhuis Sint-JanBruggeBelgium
  3. 3.Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de CharleroiMontigny-le-TileulBelgium
  4. 4.Hôpital St. JosephGillyBelgium
  5. 5.Sint-ElisabethziekenhuisTurnhoutBelgium
  6. 6.Cliniques Universitaires UCL de Mont-GodinneYvoirBelgium
  7. 7.Universitair Ziekenhuis BrusselJetteBelgium
  8. 8.EarlysvilleUSA
  9. 9.Center for Health Outcomes and Pharmacoeconomic Research, and Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, College of PharmacyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  10. 10.Novartis PharmaVilvoordeBelgium
  11. 11.Centre Hospitalier de Jolimont-LobbesBrusselsBelgium

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