Several life-threatening complications of the common disorder sickle cell disease require management with red blood cell transfusions and, hence, long-term iron-chelating therapy. The efficacy of the oral iron chelator 1,2-dimethyl-3-hydroxypyrid-4-one (L1) has not previously been determined in patients with sickle cell disease. We compared the efficacy of L1 to that of standard-dose subcutaneous deferoxamine in four regularly transfused patients with homozygous sickle cell disease, who had evidence of severe iron overload and a history of poor compliance with deferoxamine. Determination of 24-hour urinary iron excretion conducted over 5 days immediately after transfusion showed that the mean daily urinary iron excretion induced by L1 at 75 mg/kg/d (0.48 +/- 0.23 mg/kg) was equivalent to that induced by deferoxamine at 50 mg/kg/d (0.39 +/- 0.06 mg/kg). In two of three patients studied, a significant (P < .025) increase in mean daily urinary iron excretion was achieved when the dose of L1 was increased to 100 mg/kg/d. Total iron balance studies, which quantitated both urinary and stool iron excretion on L1 and deferoxamine, determined that mean total daily iron excretion induced by deferoxamine (0.88 +/- 0.05 mg/kg) was significantly greater (P < .05) than that induced by L1 (0.53 +/- 0.17 mg/kg), attributable to the significantly greater stool iron excretion during deferoxamine treatment (0.50 +/- 0.16 mg/kg/d) compared with that measured during L1 treatment (0.12 +/- 0.08 mg/kg/d, P < .01). Stool iron excretion accounted for a significantly greater percentage of total iron excretion during deferoxamine treatment (59% +/- 20%) than during L1 treatment (23% +/- 14%, P < .01). These iron balance studies are the first to compare total iron excretion induced by L1 with that achieved by deferoxamine. They demonstrate that the mean total daily iron excretion during L1 treatment (0.53 +/- 0.17 mg/kg) is sufficient to maintain net negative iron balance in most regularly transfused patients with sickle cell disease. Because long-term compliance with L1 has been shown previously to be superior to that with deferoxamine in patients with homozygous beta-thalassemia, the use of L1 should increase the long-term effectiveness of iron chelation in patients with sickle cell disease.

This content is only available as a PDF.