METHODS: The most used methods for the quantification of Hb A2 are based on automated high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) or capillary electrophoresis (CE). In particular Hb analyses were performed by HPLC on three dedicated devices. DNA analyses were performed according to local standard protocols.
RESULTS: Here, we described eight new δ-globin gene variants discovered and characterized in some laboratories in Northern Italy in recent years. These new variants were added to the many already known Hb A2 variants that were found with an estimated frequency of about 1-2% during the screening tests in our laboratories.
CONCLUSIONS: The knowledge recognition of the delta variant on Hb analysis and accurate molecular characterization is crucial to provide an accurate definitive thalassemia diagnosis, particularly in young subjects who would like to ask for a prenatal diagnosis or preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
SETTING: Haematology Lab, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Malaya.
PARTICIPANTS: Eight couples characterised as β-thalassaemia carriers where both partners posed the same β-globin gene mutations at CD41/42, IVS1-5 and IVS2-654, were recruited in this study.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Genotyping was performed by allele specific-PCR and the locations of SNPs were identified after sequencing alignment.
RESULTS: Genotype analysis revealed that at least one paternal SNP was present for each of the couples. Amplification on free-circulating DNA revealed that the paternal mutant allele of SNP was present in three fcDNA. Thus, the fetuses may be β-thalassaemia carriers or β-thalassaemia major. Paternal wild-type alleles of SNP were present in the remaining five fcDNA samples, thus indicating that the fetal genotypes would not be homozygous mutants.
CONCLUSIONS: This preliminary research demonstrates that paternal allele of SNP can be used as a non-invasive prenatal diagnosis approach for at-risk couples to determine the β-thalassaemia status of the fetus.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective study was carried out on 318 subjects with hypochromic anaemia, which comprised 162 IDA and 156 thalassaemia trait subjects with α-thalassemia, β-thalassemia and HbE trait. Optimal cut-off value, sensitivity and specificity of M/H ratio for thalassaemia trait discrimination was determined using Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis.
RESULTS: Subjects with thalassaemia trait showed higher MicroR compared to IDA ( p< 0.001) while subjects with IDA demonstrated higher Hypo-He than thalassaemia trait (p < 0.001). M/H ratio was significantly higher in thalassaemia trait compared to IDA, with medians of 3.77 (interquartile range: 2.57 - 6.52) and 1.73 (interquartile range: 1.27 - 2.38), respectively (p < 0.001). M/H ratio ≥ 2.25 was the optimal cut-off value for discriminating thalassaemia trait from IDA in hypochromic anaemia, with the area under ROC curve (AUC) of 0.83, sensitivity of 80.8% and specificity of 71.6%.
CONCLUSIONS: M/H ratio is a useful discriminant index to distinguish thalassaemia trait from IDA in hypochromic anaemia prior to diagnostic analysis for thalassaemia confirmation. High M/H ratio is suggestive of thalassaemia trait than of IDA. However, more studies are required to establish the role of M/H ratio as a screening tool for thalassaemia discrimination in hypochromic anaemia.