Hydroxyurea for reducing blood transfusion in non-transfusion dependent beta thalassaemias.Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016; 10:CD011579CD
Non-transfusion dependent beta thalassaemia is a subset of inherited haemoglobin disorders characterised by reduced production of the beta globin chain of the haemoglobin molecule leading to anaemia of varying severity. Although blood transfusion is not a necessity for survival, it is required when episodes of chronic anaemia occur. This chronic anaemia can impair growth and affect quality of life. People with non-transfusion dependent beta thalassaemia suffer from iron overload due to their body's increased capability of absorbing iron from food sources. Iron overload becomes more pronounced in those requiring blood transfusion. People with a higher foetal haemoglobin level have been found to require fewer blood transfusions. Hydroxyurea has been used to increase foetal haemoglobin level; however, its efficacy in reducing transfusion, chronic anaemia complications and its safety need to be established.
To assess the effectiveness, safety and appropriate dose regimen of hydroxyurea in people with non-transfusion dependent beta thalassaemia (haemoglobin E combined with beta thalassaemia and beta thalassaemia intermedia).
We searched the Cochrane Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group's Haemoglobinopathies Trials Register, compiled from electronic database searches and handsearching of relevant journals. We also searched ongoing trials registries and the reference lists of relevant articles and reviews.Date of last search: 30 April 2016.
Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials of hydroxyurea in people with non-transfusion dependent beta thalassaemia comparing hydroxyurea with placebo or standard treatment or comparing different doses of hydroxyurea.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Two authors independently applied the inclusion criteria in order to select trials for inclusion. Both authors assessed the risk of bias of trials and extracted the data. A third author verified these assessments.
No trials comparing hydroxyurea with placebo or standard care were found. However, we included one randomised controlled trial (n = 61) comparing 20 mg/kg/day with 10 mg/kg/day of hydroxyurea for 24 weeks.Both haemoglobin and foetal haemoglobin levels were lower at 24 weeks in the 20 mg group compared with the 10 mg group, mean difference -2.39 (95% confidence interval - 2.8 to -1.98) and mean difference -1.5 (95% confidence interval -1.83 to -1.17), respectively. Major adverse effects were significantly more common in the 20 mg group, for neutropenia risk ratio 9.93 (95% confidence interval 1.34 to 73.97) and for thrombocytopenia risk ratio 3.68 (95% confidence interval 1.13 to 12.07). No difference was reported for minor adverse effects (gastrointestinal disturbances and raised liver enzymes). The effect of hydroxyurea on transfusion frequency was not reported.The overall quality for the outcomes reported was graded as very low mainly because the outcomes were derived from only one small study with an unclear method of allocation concealment.