by Suriyan Sukati, Saovaros Svasti, Roberto Stifanese, Monica Averna, Nantika Panutdaporn, Tipparat Penglong, Edon Melloni, Suthat Fucharoen, Gerd Katzenmeier
Earlier observations in the literature suggest that proteolytic degradation of excess unmatched a-globin chains reduces their accumulation and precipitation in ß-thalassaemia erythroid precursor cells and have linked this proteolytic degradation to the activity of calpain protease. The aim of this study was to correlate the activity of calpain and its inhibitor, calpastatin, with different degrees of disease severity in ß-thalassaemia. CD34+ cells were enriched from peripheral blood of healthy individuals (control group) and patients with mild and severe clinical presentations of ß0-thalassaemia/Hb E disease. By ex vivo cultivation promoting erythroid cell differentiation for 7 days, proerythroblasts, were employed for the functional characterization of the calpain-calpastatin proteolytic system. In comparison to the control group, enzymatic activity and protein amounts of µ-calpain were found to be more than 3-fold increased in proerythroblasts from patients with mild clinical symptoms, whereas no significant difference was observed in patients with severe clinical symptoms. Furthermore, a 1.6-fold decrease of calpastatin activity and 3.2-fold accumulation of a 34 kDa calpain-mediated degradation product of calpastatin were observed in patients with mild clinical symptoms. The increased activity of calpain may be involved in the removal of excess a-globin chains contributing to a lower degree of disease severity in patients with mild clinical symptoms.