A Non-Invasive Technique which
Demonstrates the Iron in the Buccal
Mucosa of Sickle Cell Anaemia and
Thalassaemia Patients who Undergo
Repeated Blood Transfusions
Dr. Harika Chittamsetty,
Senior Lecturer, Department of Oral Pathology,
1/394, C.S. Buildings, Malavyanagar,
Gudur, Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Background: Iron is vital for all the living organisms. However, excess iron is hazardous because it produces free radical formation. Therefore, the iron absorption is carefully regulated to maintain an equilibrium between the absorption and the body loss of iron. Considering the lack of specific excretory pathways for iron in humans, an iron overload in the tissues is frequently encountered. It can be precipitated by a variety of conditions such as increased iron absorption, as is seen in haemochromatosis or a frequent parenteral iron administration, as is seen in thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia patients (a transfusional overload).
Objectives: To demonstrate the iron overload at an early stage by oral exfoliative cytology in the oral mucosal cells of thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia patients and to compare the presence of iron in the exfoliated oral epithelial cells with that of the serum ferritin levels in those patients.
Materials and Methods: The present study comprised of 40 ÃŸ â€“ thalassaemia major and 20 sickle cell anaemia patients who were undergoing repeated blood transfusions of a minimum of 15/more, along with 60 clinically healthy individuals. Scrapings were obtained from the buccal mucosa and they were smeared onto glass slides. Then the slides were stained with a Perlâ€™s Prussian staining kit and they were examined under a light microscope.
Results: 72.5% of the thalassaemia patients and 35% of the sickle cell anaemia patients revealed a positivity for the Perlâ€™s Prussian blue reaction and none of the controls showed this positivity. It was also observed that as the serum ferritin levels increased, the iron overload in the oral mucosal cells of the thalassaemia patients also increased, which was not statistically significant, whereas it was statistically significant in case of the sickle cell anemia patients.
Conclusion: Since the exfoliative cytology is a simple, painless, non-invasive and a quick procedure to perform, a lot of research should be carried out on the correlation of the Perlâ€™s Prussian blue reaction to the serum ferritin levels.