A form of thalassemia. Thalassemias are common monogenic diseases occurring mostly in Mediterranean and Southeast Asian populations. The hallmark of beta-thalassemia is an imbalance in globin-chain production in the adult HbA molecule. Absence of beta chain causes beta(0)-thalassemia, while reduced amounts of detectable beta globin causes beta(+)-thalassemia. In the severe forms of beta-thalassemia, the excess alpha globin chains accumulate in the developing erythroid precursors in the marrow. Their deposition leads to a vast increase in erythroid apoptosis that in turn causes ineffective erythropoiesis and severe microcytic hypochromic anemia. Clinically, beta-thalassemia is divided into thalassemia major which is transfusion dependent, thalassemia intermedia (of intermediate severity), and thalassemia minor that is asymptomatic.
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