How is alpha thalassemia differentiated from beta thalassemia?

Updated: Dec 19, 2018
  • Author: Pooja Advani, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Alpha thalassemia, which is characterized by genetic defects in the alpha-globin gene, is another known cause of mild microcytic anemia and has features similar to those of beta thalassemia. However, in contrast to beta-thalassemia minor (carrier) patients who have elevated levels of Hb A2 (2 alpha-globin chains complexed with 2 delta-globin chains), patients with alpha-thalassemia have normal levels of Hb.

Establishing the diagnosis of the alpha-thalassemia trait is often a diagnosis of exclusion. Definitive diagnosis requires measuring either the alpha-beta chain synthesis ratio or performing genetic tests of the alpha-globin cluster (using Southern blot or polymerase chain reaction [PCR] assay tests).


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!