Hypocholesterolemia of unknown etiology has been previously described in various chronic anemias. Few small studies also suggested that those patients have a lower incidence of atherosclerotic events. The aim of our study was to determine the extent of hypocholesterolemia in various types of anemias. We studied 59 patients with chronic anemias associated with high-erythropoietic activity (thalassemia intermedia, congenital dyserythropoietic anemia type I, congenital spherocytosis), 8 patients with low-erythropoietic activity anemias (acquired aplastic anemia, Fanconi anemia, and Diamond Blackfan anemia), and 20 healthy controls. Mean serum cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, hemoglobin, serum ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (STR), and serum erythropoietin levels were determined in each patient. All patients with chronic anemia and increased erythropoietic activity had hypocholesterolemia, whereas none of those with low erythropoietic activity was hypocholesterolemic. Mean serum cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels were found to be significantly lower in the high-erythropoietic activity group (80 ± 19 mg/dl; 31 ± 10 mg/dl; 35 ± 14 mg/dl, respectively) compared with the control group (P < 0.001; 0.001; 0.001, respectively) and the low-erythropoietic activity group (P < 0.001; 0.001; 0.01, respectively). Significant inverse correlation (R2 = 0.507) was observed between serum cholesterol and STR levels, which in the absence of iron deficiency reflect bone marrow activity. Taken together, our results imply that hypocholesterolemia accompanies anemias with high-erythropoietic activity. We suggest that the high-erythropoitic activity-associated hypocholesterolemia is due to increased cholesterol requirements by the proliferating erythoid cells. Further studies are needed to elucidate the exact mechanism and the possible clinical consequences of this phenomenon.
- Congenital dyserythropoietic anemia type I
- Hereditary spherocytosis
- Soluble transferrin receptor