Plasma lipids in beta-thalassemia minor

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      Because total cholesterol levels have been found to be lower in patients affected by thalassemia major and intermedia, we examined the plasma lipid pattern of 628 beta-thalassemia trait carriers and 4552 controls in order to evaluate whether the plasma lipid impairment is also present in the heterozygous state. Total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol levels were significantly lower in betathalassemia trait carriers when compared to controls, whereas plasma triglycerides and high density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholestrol levels did not differ between the two groups. We suggest that accelerated erythropoiesis and increased uptake of LDL by macrophages and histiocytes of the reticuloendothelial system are the main determinants of low plasma cholesterol levels in heterozygous thalassemia.


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