Abstract 4033

Poster Board III-969

G6PD deficiency is the more common human enzyme defect, leading typically to an acute intravascular hemolysis occurring when red cells are exposed to an oxidative stress. However, in rare patients, very low enzymatic level induces the class I G6PD deficiency according to the WHO classification, i.e. a chronic non-spherocytic hemolytic anemia. These cases are all sporadic, occur worldwide, and almost all arise from de novo independent mutations. These mutations are found at the genomic level in both hematopoietic and non hematopoietic cells and occur recurrently in “hot spots”: most of them are located in the exon 10 of the G6PD gene, implicated in the dimer formation and the stability of the active enzyme. No null or frameshift mutations have been reported yet, probably because such mutations would be lethal; indeed, a minimal residual G6PD activity is essential during embryogenesis.

We report here the case of 65 years-old Caucasian man referred in 1993 for hemolytic anemia. No personal or familial history of anemia was noted. Nine and five years before, the hemoglobin (Hb) level and the mean corpuscular volume (MCV) were normal. At diagnosis, the anemia was moderate (Hb: 11.9 g/dL), macrocytic (MCV: 104 fL) and regenerative (reticulocyte count: 550G/L) with hemolytic features. Platelets and leucocytes counts were normal. No clinical or ultrasound spleen enlargement was noted. The screening tests ruled out all the classical causes of acquired hemolytic anemia. Red cells half life after Cr51 labelling was shortened with autologous (5 days) but not with allogenous red cells confirming the corpuscular mechanism of the hemolysis. Dosage of erythocyte G6PD activity revealed a very low level (from 0.6 to 1.5 UI/g of Hb, normal range 5.3-7.9). Pyruvate kinase, pyrimidine 5'-nucleotidase and hexokinase enzymatic activities were increased in agreement with the reticulocytosis. With a follow-up of 16 years, evolution was marked by a progressive worsening of the anemia, requiring 8 to 16 packed red cell transfusions per year in parallel with an iron chelation and folic acid therapy. Concomittantly, the macrocytosis increased up to 144 fL.

At the molecular level, sequencing of the genomic DNA of the G6PD gene revealed presence of a single nucleotide mutation that altered the IVS 10 nucleotide 1 G>A from donor consensus sequence, leading to an impaired splicing between exon 10 and exon 11. The missplicing creates a premature termination codon giving theorically a truncated protein (464 versus 514 amino-acid).

This severe genotype was discordant with the normal hemoglobin level five years before the diagnosis. Moreover, such a mutation at the germinal level would be expected to be lethal; therefore, we hypothesized that it arised at the somatic level in an hematopoietic stem cell; we measured the G6PD activity in hematopoietic and non hematopoietic cells and observed that it was decreased in red cells, polymorphonuclear cells and lymphocytes from blood, but was normal in skin fibroblasts; molecular analysis confirmed that the mutation was present in blood mononuclear cells but was absent in the fibroblasts.

Bone marrow CD34+ cells were then sorted and plated at one cell per dish in the presence of a cocktail of cytokines including EPO and the different clones were harvested at day 10 for genomic analysis of the G6PD gene. Out of the 44 tested clones, we found that most of them carried the mutation (61%), but we were still able to detect a few unmutated clones (7%), reflecting the persistence of a minor polyclonal unmutated hematopoiesis. Surprisingly, we detect in the rest of the clones both the normal and mutated genotypes; at this time, we have no clear explanation to this finding.

Acquired modifications of structure or expression of genes implicated in red cell physiology have been long recognized, occurring principally in myeloid malignancies such as myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). This includes genes implicated in the red cell membrane skeleton or in haemoglobin synthesis or structure. However, our patient presented no MDS features on repeated bone marrow examination and on cytogenetic analysis. Regardless to all our data, we concluded that our patient present the first case ever reported of chronic non spherocytic anemia related to an acquired somatic mutation of the G6PD gene at the level of a hematopoietic pluripotent cell.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.