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Role of vitamin C as an adjuvant therapy to different iron chelators in young β-thalassemia major patients: efficacy and safety in relation to tissue iron overload.

BACKGROUND: Vitamin C, as antioxidant, increases the efficacy of deferoxamine (DFO).

AIM: To investigate the effects of vitamin C as an adjuvant therapy to the three used iron chelators in moderately iron-overloaded young vitamin C-deficient patients with β-thalassemia major (β-TM) in relation to tissue iron overload.

METHODS: This randomized prospective trial that included 180 β-TM vitamin C-deficient patients were equally divided into three groups (n = 60) and received DFO, deferiprone (DFP), and deferasirox (DFX). Patients in each group were further randomized either to receive vitamin C supplementation (100 mg daily) or not (n = 30). All patients received vitamin C (group A) or no vitamin C (group B) were followed up for 1 yr with assessment of transfusion index, hemoglobin, iron profile, liver iron concentration (LIC) and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) T2*.

RESULTS: Baseline vitamin C was negatively correlated with transfusion index, serum ferritin (SF), and LIC. After vitamin C therapy, transfusion index, serum iron, SF, transferrin saturation (Tsat), and LIC were significantly decreased in group A patients, while hemoglobin and cardiac MRI T2* were elevated compared with baseline levels or those in group B without vitamin C. The same improvement was found among DFO-treated patients post-vitamin C compared with baseline data. DFO-treated patients had the highest hemoglobin with the lowest iron, SF, and Tsat compared with DFP or DFX subgroups.

CONCLUSIONS: Vitamin C as an adjuvant therapy possibly potentiates the efficacy of DFO more than DFP and DFX in reducing iron burden in the moderately iron-overloaded vitamin C-deficient patients with β-TM, with no adverse events.

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