Background: l-Carnitine and magnesium have antioxidant properties. They have the potential to stimulate production of fetal hemoglobin and stabilize the RBC membrane, respectively. Several studies have also shown the beneficial effects of hydroxyurea in thalassemic patients. We assessed the effect of combination therapy of hydroxyurea with l-carnitine and magnesium chloride on hematologic parameters and cardiac function of patients with β-thalassemia intermedia.
Methods: One-hundred-and-twenty patients with thalassemia intermedia (range, 4–35 yr; mean, 19 ± 6.4 yr) who had no need for blood transfusion or requirement for blood transfusion with an interval of >6 months were randomly selected. All patients had been on hydroxyurea for >6 months. They were randomly divided into four groups: group A (hydroxyurea alone); group B (hydroxyurea and l-carnitine); group C (hydroxyurea and magnesium chloride); and group D (hydroxyurea, l-carnitine and magnesium chloride).
Results: In groups B, C, and D, mean Hb and hematocrit increased during 6-month treatment (P < 0.001). Echocardiographic studies revealed a significant decrease in left ventricular end-diastolic diameter in group B (P = 0.032), increase in pulmonary acceleration time in group C (P = 0.012), and increase in left ventricular ejection fraction in groups C and D (P < 0.000 and 0.006, respectively).
Conclusion: Combination of hydroxyurea with l-carnitine or magnesium could be more effective in improving hematologic parameters and cardiac status in patients with β-thalassemia intermedia than hydroxyurea alone.