Pathogenesis of Thalassemia Major–Associated Osteoporosis: Review of the Literature and Our Experience


  • Agostino Gaudio
  • Nancy Morabito
  • Antonino Catalano
  • Rosario Rapisarda
  • Anastasia Xourafa
  • Antonino Lasco

Received Date: 25.02.2018 Accepted Date: 01.07.2018 J Clin Res Pediatr Endocrinol 0;0(0):0-0 [e-Pub] PMID: 29991466

Due to increasing life expectancy in thalassemia major (TM), osteoporosis is emerging as a significant problem. Its aetiology is multifactorial, culminating in increased bone resorption and remodelling.

Hypogonadism and marrow expansion seem to play an important role, but iron overload, deferoxamine toxicity, a defective GH-IGF-1 axis and multiple endocrinopathies may represent additional causes of bone damage. Many of these patients, though under appropriate treatment programs, do not achieve normal peak bone mass. The RANK/RANKL/OPG and the Wnt/βCatenin systems work as major mediators of imbalanced bone turnover and bone loss. Additional genetic factors, such as collagen type I alpha 1 and vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms, may exert some influence on the enhanced fracture risk observed in TM. To date, in spite of adequate hormone replacement, chelating therapy, and acceptable haemoglobin levels, subjects with TM display impaired bone density and imbalanced bone turnover, so the puzzle of the pathogenesis of thalassemia major–induced osteoporosis remains far from being solved.

Keywords: osteoporosis, thalassemia major, hypogonadism, marrow expansion, bone turnover