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Sickle Cell Disease: Clinical Effects of Iron Overload

Iron overload and subsequent accumulation are a significant problem that is potentially toxic and debilitating. Iron burden is a determinant of morbidity and mortality in sickle cell disease (SCD).1-3

A positive correlation has been shown between severity of iron overload and frequency of hospitalization in patients with SCD.2

Iron Overload and Outcomes in SCD

Iron overload contributes to increased morbidity and mortality in patients with SCD (Figure). Even though SCD patients receive intermittent transfusions, as opposed to thalassemia patients who receive regular transfusions, they can still experience the fatal consequences of iron overload.3,4,5

Outcomes in SCD Patients with Iron Overload

Figure. Iron overload is associated with poor outcome in SCD.3

TS = transferrin saturation.

Learn about measuring iron loading >


  1. Pullarkat V. Adv Hematol. 2010;1-12.
  2. Fung EB, et al. Am J Hematol. 2007;82:255-65.
  3. Ballas SK. Semin Hematol. 2001;38 Suppl 1:30-6.
  4. Galanello R, Origa R. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2010;5:11.
  5. National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH publication 02-2117. 2002. Available at: Accessed April 2014.
  6. Sickle Cell Society. Standards for the Clinical Care of Adults with Sickle Cell Disease in the UK. 2008.

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