Two-year observational study of deferiprone in superficial siderosis

Remi A. Kessler, Xu Li, Kateryna Schwartz, Hwa Huang, Maureen A. Mealy, Michael Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Superficial siderosis is a rare, neurodegenerative disease caused by toxic accumulation of hemosiderin on the surface of the brain and the spinal cord, most commonly from chronic subarachnoid hemorrhage. Aims: The aim of this study was to assess the clinical and radiological outcomes of superficial siderosis patients using deferiprone, a cell permeant iron chelator. Subjects obtained pre- and post-treatment brain MRIs and weekly laboratory tests. Osirix software was used to develop a method of quantifying hemosiderin deposition. Three-dimensional whole brain images of gradient echo images were rendered and compared by dividing the mean T2 hyperintensity to the maximal cerebrospinal fluid signal. Results: A total of 38 subjects completed the study, of which clinical and radiological data were available for 30. The average age was 64 years (range 37-86), 53% were male, 94% were white. Nineteen subjects (63%) reported either no progression of disease or an improvement in at least one neurological domain, with 40% of patients reporting a stabilization in hearing function and 30% reporting stable or improved coordination and walking. By MRI, there was an overall mean increase in T2 hyperintensity of the whole brain of 1%-13% over the 2-year time period in half of patients, indicating a reduction hemosiderosis. There were no cases of agranulocytosis, and declines of white blood cells counts and neutrophils averaged <10%. Fatigue was the most common side effect. Conclusion: This is the first long-term prospective study of superficial siderosis on the iron chelator, deferiprone. MRI quantification of hemosiderin appears to demonstrate a measurable reduction in half of patients and this correlated with a stabilized or improving disease course. A future placebo-controlled trial is necessary to determine whether deferiprone is an effective therapy for superficial siderosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-192
Number of pages6
JournalCNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • deferiprone
  • hemosiderosis of the central nervous system
  • superficial siderosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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