Introduction: β-thalassemia is caused by autosomal mutations in the β-globin gene, which induce the absence or low-level synthesis of β-globin in erythroid cells. It is widely accepted that a high production of fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is beneficial for patients with β-thalassemia. Sirolimus, also known as rapamycin, is a lipophilic macrolide isolated from a strain of Streptomyces hygroscopicus that serves as a strong HbF inducer in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we report biochemical, molecular, and clinical results of a sirolimus-based NCT03877809 clinical trial (a personalized medicine approach for β-thalassemia transfusion-dependent patients: testing sirolimus in a first pilot clinical trial, Sirthalaclin). Methods: Accumulation of γ-globin mRNA was analyzed using reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), while the hemoglobin pattern was analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The immunophenotype was analyzed using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS), with antibodies against CD3, CD4, CD8, CD14, CD19, CD25 (for analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells), or CD71 and CD235a (for analysis of in vitro cultured erythroid precursors). Results: The results were obtained in eight patients with the β+/β+ and β+/β0 genotypes, who were treated with a starting dosage of 1 mg/day sirolimus for 24–48 weeks. The first finding of this study was that the expression of γ-globin mRNA increased in the blood and erythroid precursor cells isolated from β-thalassemia patients treated with low-dose sirolimus. This trial also led to the important finding that sirolimus influences erythropoiesis and reduces biochemical markers associated with ineffective erythropoiesis (excess free α-globin chains, bilirubin, soluble transferrin receptor, and ferritin). A decrease in the transfusion demand index was observed in most (7/8) of the patients. The drug was well tolerated, with minor effects on the immunophenotype, and an only side effect of frequently occurring stomatitis. Conclusion: The data obtained indicate that low doses of sirolimus modify hematopoiesis and induce increased expression of γ-globin genes in a subset of patients with β-thalassemia. Further clinical trials are warranted, possibly including testing of the drug in patients with less severe forms of the disease and exploring combination therapies. © The Author(s), 2022.

Expression of γ-globin genes in β-thalassemia patients treated with sirolimus: results from a pilot clinical trial (Sirthalaclin)

Zuccato, Cristina
Co-primo
;
Cosenza, Lucia Carmela
Co-primo
;
Zurlo, Matteo
Co-primo
;
Gasparello, Jessica;Papi, Chiara;D'Aversa, Elisabetta;Breveglieri, Giulia;Lampronti, Ilaria;Finotti, Alessia;Borgatti, Monica;Scapoli, Chiara;Fortini, Monica;Gambari, Roberto
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

Introduction: β-thalassemia is caused by autosomal mutations in the β-globin gene, which induce the absence or low-level synthesis of β-globin in erythroid cells. It is widely accepted that a high production of fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is beneficial for patients with β-thalassemia. Sirolimus, also known as rapamycin, is a lipophilic macrolide isolated from a strain of Streptomyces hygroscopicus that serves as a strong HbF inducer in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we report biochemical, molecular, and clinical results of a sirolimus-based NCT03877809 clinical trial (a personalized medicine approach for β-thalassemia transfusion-dependent patients: testing sirolimus in a first pilot clinical trial, Sirthalaclin). Methods: Accumulation of γ-globin mRNA was analyzed using reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), while the hemoglobin pattern was analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The immunophenotype was analyzed using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS), with antibodies against CD3, CD4, CD8, CD14, CD19, CD25 (for analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells), or CD71 and CD235a (for analysis of in vitro cultured erythroid precursors). Results: The results were obtained in eight patients with the β+/β+ and β+/β0 genotypes, who were treated with a starting dosage of 1 mg/day sirolimus for 24–48 weeks. The first finding of this study was that the expression of γ-globin mRNA increased in the blood and erythroid precursor cells isolated from β-thalassemia patients treated with low-dose sirolimus. This trial also led to the important finding that sirolimus influences erythropoiesis and reduces biochemical markers associated with ineffective erythropoiesis (excess free α-globin chains, bilirubin, soluble transferrin receptor, and ferritin). A decrease in the transfusion demand index was observed in most (7/8) of the patients. The drug was well tolerated, with minor effects on the immunophenotype, and an only side effect of frequently occurring stomatitis. Conclusion: The data obtained indicate that low doses of sirolimus modify hematopoiesis and induce increased expression of γ-globin genes in a subset of patients with β-thalassemia. Further clinical trials are warranted, possibly including testing of the drug in patients with less severe forms of the disease and exploring combination therapies. © The Author(s), 2022.
Zuccato, Cristina; Cosenza, Lucia Carmela; Zurlo, Matteo; Gasparello, Jessica; Papi, Chiara; D'Aversa, Elisabetta; Breveglieri, Giulia; Lampronti, Ilaria; Finotti, Alessia; Borgatti, Monica; Scapoli, Chiara; Stievano, Alice; Fortini, Monica; Ramazzotti, Eric; Marchetti, Nicola; Prosdocimi, Marco; Gamberini, Maria Rita; Gambari, Roberto
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2495097
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