Iron overload (IOL) portends inferior outcome in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESA) may reduce red blood cell transfusion requirements. MDS patients receiving ESA were reviewed for characteristics, response to ESA by International Working Group 2006 criteria and ferritin levels. Forty-nine patients received an ESA, had ferritin levels available, and were not receiving iron chelation therapy. Baseline characteristics were not significantly different between ESA responders (ER) and non-responders (ENR; P = NS). The median ESA treatment duration was 6.7 (1.5-85.9) months. Twenty-one (43 %) patients had an ESA response. Median ferritin level in ER was pre-ESA, 473 (range 91-2727) and post-ESA, 801 (130-11,164) ng/mL (P = 0.01), and in ENR pre-ESA, 672 (76-3285) and post-ESA, 1423 (431-6593) ng/mL (P < 0.0001). There was a significant association between ESA response, post-ESA hemoglobin ≥100 g/L, and post-ESA ferritin <1000 ng/mL (P = 0.0003 and 0.03, respectively). At a median follow-up of 28 months, the 2-year overall survival for ER and ENR, respectively, were 80 % and 86 % (P = NS). In lower-risk MDS patients responding to ESA, although an expected decrease in ferritin levels over treatment was not seen, ferritin levels increased less than in non-responders. Whether IOL may be reduced by ESA over a longer treatment duration may require analysis of larger numbers of patients.
ESA; Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents; Ferritin; Iron overload; MDS; Myelodysplastic syndromes