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Frequent blood loss induces progressive depletion of iron stores, leading to iron deficiency and, ultimately, to overt iron-deficient anaemia. The erythropoietin-mediated bone marrow response to anaemia is under the control of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF), the master regulators of oxygen and iron homeostasis. Since the HIF-1α(Pro-582-Ser) variant is associated with elevated trans-activation capacity of hypoxia responsive elements of target genes, we investigated whether the HIF-1α(Pro-582-Ser) polymorphism might influence the response to repeated blood withdrawals. Using polymerase chain reaction analysis and DNA sequencing, we retrospectively investigated the presence of HIF-1α(Pro-582-Ser) in a series of 163 blood donors. Haematological findings, serum ferritin levels and frequency of donations were compared according to the mutational status of the HIF-1α gene. We found that male carriers of the HIF-1α(Pro-582-Ser) polymorphism had higher haemoglobin and ferritin levels than individuals homozygous for the wild-type allele. Moreover, the HIF-1α(Pro-582-Ser) polymorphism protected regular blood donors from developing iron deficiency and anaemia and predicted uninterrupted donation activity. These findings show for the first time that the HIF-1α(Pro-582-Ser) polymorphism significantly affects red blood cell and iron homeostasis after blood loss, conferring to male carriers a resistance to anaemia. Regarding the female gender, large series of individuals should be investigated to establish whether there is an effect of the HIF-1α(Pro-582-Ser) polymorphism in this population. Although these data need to be confirmed in prospective studies, they could have important implications in blood donor selection and donation procedures.


Lorenza Torti, Luciana Teofili, Sara Capodimonti, Eugenia R Nuzzolo, Maria Grazia Iachininoto, Giuseppina Massini, Serelina Coluzzi, Agostino Tafuri, Francesco Fiorin, Gabriella Girelli, Gina Zini, Luigi M Larocca. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α(Pro-582-Ser) polymorphism prevents iron deprivation in healthy blood donors. Blood transfusion = Trasfusione del sangue. 2013 Oct;11(4):553-7

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PMID: 24120591

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