AbstractInitiation of regular transfusion in transfusion-dependent thalassemia (TDT) is based on the assessment of clinical phenotype. Pathogenic HBB variants causing β-thalassemia are important determinants of phenotype and could be used to aid decision making. We investigated the association of HBB genotype with survival in a cohort study in the four thalassemia centres in Cyprus. HBB genotype was classified as severe (β0/β0 or β+/β0), moderate (β+/β+), or mild (β0/β++ or β+/β++). Risk factors for mortality were evaluated using multivariate Cox proportional-hazards regression. 537 subjects were followed for a total of 20,963 person years. 80.4% (95% CI 76.4-84.7) of individuals survived to 50 years of age with increasing rates of liver, infection and malignancy-related deaths observed during recent follow-up. We evaluated non-modifiable risk factors and found worse outcomes associated with male sex (Hazard ratio 1.9, 95% CI 1.1-3.0, p=0.01) and milder genotype (Hazard ratio 1.6, 95% CI 1.1-2.3, p=0.02). The effect of genotype was confirmed in a second model, which included treatment effects. Patients with a milder genotype initiated transfusion significantly later and had reduced blood requirements compared to those with moderate or severe genotypes, although pre-transfusion hemoglobin levels did not differ between genotypes. Our results suggest that early treatment decisions to delay transfusion and different long-term treatment strategies in milder genotypes have led to adverse long-term effects of under-treated thalassemia and worse survival. We propose that HBB genotype determination and use of this information to aid in decision making can improve long-term outcomes of thalassaemia patients.
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Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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