Background: Beta thalassemia is an inherited hemoglobin disorder resulting in chronic hemolytic anemia. RBCs hemolysis and repeated blood transfusions are the major causes of secondary iron overload which leads to deposition of iron in different endocrine glands. Delayed puberty and hypogonadism are the most obvious clinical consequences of iron overload. The aim of this study was to evaluate male sex hormone levels in male children with β- thalassemia major in correlation with iron overload.
Material and Methods: The present study was conducted on 60 male children with β- thalassemia major with serum ferritin of more than 1000 ng/ml with their age ranging from 11-18 years and mean age value of 14.16±2.48 (Group I) and 60 male children with β- thalassemia major of matched age with no iron overload (Group II). For all children in both groups the following were done: Complete blood count, Hb electrophoresis, serum ferritin, serum iron, TIBC, serum testosterone levels and assessment of testicular volume by ultrasound and Orchidometer.
Results: Serum iron and ferritin were significantly higher while TIBC, serum testosterone levels and testicular volume were significantly lower in Group I than Group II (Mean serum iron was 221.70 ± 46.76 in group I versus 122.45 ± 14.32 in group II with p value of 0.001, mean serum ferritin was 2595.06 ± 903.43 in group I versus 373.75 ± 6.82 in group II with p value of 0.001, mean serum TIBC was 210.93 ± 18.17 in group I versus 311.40 ± 13.57 in group II with p value of 0.001, mean serum testosterone was 1.01±1.61 in group I versus 2.73±2.66 in group II with p value of 0.006, mean testicular volume was 4.45± 4.92 in group I versus 8.66±7.08 in group II with p value of 0.016). There was significant negative correlation between serum ferritin and serum testosterone and between serum ferritin and testicular volume in studied patients in group I (r = -0.457 and p value = 0.011 for correlation between ferritin and testosterone and r = -0.908 and p value = 0.001 for correlation between ferritin and testicular volume).
Conclusion: Male sex hormone and testicular volume were significantly lower in thalassemic patients with iron overload, significant negative correlation and serum ferritin.
Recommendations: Regular follow up for thalassemia patients for early detection of iron overload with regular assessment of puberty as thalassemic patients are vulnerable to develop hypogonadism and may require sex hormone replacement therapy.