Bone marrow, spleen, liver and kidney proton transverse relaxation rates (R2), together with cardiac R2∗ from patients with sickle cell disease (SCD), paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and non-transfusion dependent thalassemia (NTDT) have been compared with a control group. Increased liver and bone marrow R2 values for the three groups of patients in comparison with the controls have been found. SCD and PNH patients also present an increased spleen R2 in comparison with the controls. The simultaneous measurement of R2 values for several tissue types by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has allowed the identification of iron distribution patterns in diseases associated with iron imbalance. Preferential liver iron loading is found in the highly transfused SCD patients, while the low transfused ones present a preferential iron loading of the spleen. Similar to the highly transfused SCD group, PNH patients preferentially accumulate iron in the liver. A reduced spleen iron accumulation in comparison with the liver and bone marrow loading has been found in NTDT patients, presumably related to the differential increased intestinal iron absorption. The correlation between serum ferritin and tissue R2 is moderate to good for the liver, spleen and bone marrow in SCD and PNH patients. However, serum ferritin does not correlate with NTDT liver R2, spleen R2 or heart R2∗. As opposed to serum ferritin measurements, tissue R2 values are a more direct measurement of each tissue's iron loading. This kind of determination will allow a better understanding of the different patterns of tissue iron biodistribution in diseases predisposed to tissue iron accumulation.
Gutiérrez, L., House, M., Vasavda, N., Drašar, E., Gonzalez-Gascon Y Marin, I., Kulasekararaj, A. G., ... Thein, S. L. (2015). Tissue iron distribution assessed by MRI in patients with iron loading anemias. PLoS One, 10(9), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0139220