Long-Term Efficacy of Deferasirox in Preventing Cardiovascular Complications in the Iron-Overloaded Gerbil

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Iron-induced cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in iron-overloaded patients. Deferasirox is a novel tridentate oral chelator that exhibits a half-life suitable for once-daily dosing; however, little is known regarding the effectiveness of this agent in preventing iron-induced cardiovascular disease. Adult male Mongolian gerbils were randomly divided into 3 groups: control, iron overload, and iron overload followed by deferasirox treatment. Iron-overloaded animals received iron dextran 100 mg/kg intraperitoneally (ip)/5 days for 10 weeks, while deferasirox was given 100 mg/kg per d orally (po) for 9 months post iron loading. Cardiac and aortic iron levels were determined by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. Gerbil electro- and echocardiograms were obtained in anesthetized animals at regular intervals. Compared to control animals, iron concentration was 3.3- and 2.4-fold higher in iron-overloaded heart and aorta, respectively (P < .05). Deferasirox treatment reduced cardiac and aortic iron levels by 32% and 35%, respectively (P < .05). These results were consistent with the decrease in cellular iron deposition observed with Prussian Blue iron staining. Iron-overloaded gerbils were found to exhibit frequent arrhythmias including premature ventricular contractions, supraventricular tachycardia, and recurrent ventricular tachycardia. In addition, echocardiographic assessment demonstrated iron overload-associated increase in left ventricular dimensions including left ventricular posterior wall dimension (LVPWd: 49%), left ventricular internal dimension (LVIDd: 26%), and left ventricular septum thickness (LVSd: 42%). These parameters were significantly reduced with deferasirox treatment (LVPWd: 23%, LVIDd: 24%, and LVSd: 27%). Iron overload was also associated with reduced ejection fraction (EF: by 30%) and fractional shortening (FS: by 23%) in comparison with controls (P < .05). With deferasirox treatment, these values were higher (EF: by 30%, FS: by 28%) compared to iron-overloaded group. These findings suggest that deferasirox may be useful for attenuating iron-induced changes in cardiac structure and function.

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