Butyrate derivatives: New agents for stimulating fetal globin production in the β-Globin disorders

Susan P. Perrine, Nancy F. Olivieri, Douglas V. Faller, Elliott P. Vichinsky, George J. Dover, Gordon D. Ginder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Purpose: Stimulating expression of the normal fetal globin genes is a preferred method of ameliorating sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia for the majority of patients in North America who do not have appropriate bone marrow donors. Patients and Methods: Due to increased survival of red blood cells that contain both hemoglobin S and hemoglobin F, as little as 4–8% fetal globin synthesis in the bone marrow can produce levels of hemoglobin F of ~20% in the peripheral circulation. Some success has been achieved in stimulating hemoglobin F using chemotherapeutic agents (such as hydroxyurea and 5-azacytidine) and growth factors (erythropoietin) that alter erythroid growth kinetics. However, there is reluctance to treat children with chemotherapeutic agents because of possible undesirable long-term side effects. Results: Butyric acid and butyrate derivatives are generally safe compounds that stimulate the promoters of individual fetal and embryonic globin genes and thus provide a more specific therapy. An initial trial with the parent compound, given as arginine butyrate, has demonstrated rapid stimulation of fetal globin expression to levels that can ameliorate these conditions. Phase I trials of an oral butyrate derivative with a long plasma half-life have begun. Conclusions: These agents may provide a new and specific approach for ameliorating the clinical manifestations of sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-71
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1994


  • Butyrate
  • Fetal hemoglobin
  • Sickle cell disease
  • β-thalassemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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