Difference Between Alpha-Thalassemia and Beta-Thalassemia (With Table)

The word “thalassemia” comes from Greek, meaning “a sea without salt.” Thalassemia refers to a group of inherited metabolic blood disorders that affect the globin chain of hemoglobin. Moreover, The chain is composed of four proteins called alpha chains, beta chains, and δ chains. Alpha-Thalassemia and Beta-Thalassemia are extremely similar, yet they are different from each other.

Alpha-Thalassemia vs Beta-Thalassemia

The difference between Alpha-Thalassemia and Beta-Thalassemia is that Alpha-Thalassemia is an inherited metabolic blood disorder that happens when the alpha chain is defective. The cells cannot survive and die, which results in severe anemia. Beta-Thalassemia, on the other hand, is an inherited metabolic blood disorder that does not result in severe anemia.

Alpha Thalassemia refers to a group of inherited metabolic blood disorders that affect the globin chain of hemoglobin. Moreover, when the alpha chain is defective, the cells cannot survive and die. This can result in severe anemia. The primary symptom of Alpha thalassemia is the production of inadequate amounts of hemoglobin.

Beta-Thalassemia is a hereditary metabolic blood disorder that affects beta chains in red blood cells that further reduces the production of normal red blood cells and cause poor oxygen transport to tissues and organs. A person suffering from Beta-Thalassemia may have anemia, but it does not result in severe anemia and death.

Comparison Table Between Alpha-Thalassemia and Beta-Thalassemia

Parameters of ComparisonAlpha-ThalassemiaBeta-Thalassemia
DefinitionAlpha-Thalassemia is an inherited metabolic blood disorder that happens when the alpha chain is defective. Beta-thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes reduced levels of the beta chains that usually form part of hemoglobin.
CauseAlpha-Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder where one of the α-chains is defective. As a result, it produces a very low hemoglobin level.Beta thalassemia is a hereditary blood disorder that reduces levels of the beta chains in red blood cells, which reduces the production of normal red blood cells.
TypesThere are four different types of Alpha-Thalassemia, including Hb H, carrier, silent carrier, and major.There are three different types of Beta-Thalassemia, including Hb E, Hb S, and Hb C.
SymptomsSevere Anemia, fatigue, jaundice, and pale skin color. Anemia, fatigue, pale skin color, and low red blood cell counts.
DiagnosisDNA analysis, blood chemistry, and globin chain analysis. Blood tests may include red blood cell counts, blood chemistry, and DNA analysis.

What is Alpha-Thalassemia?

Alpha-Thalassemia is an inherited metabolic blood disorder that affects the globin chain of hemoglobin. Globins are protein complexes that combine with myoglobin to form the hemoglobin molecule. Moreover, The globin chain is composed of four proteins called alpha chains, beta chains, and δ chains. For each chain, one α-chain replaces another α-chain at a time in developing blood cells during fetal development.

A person with alpha-thalassemia has two copies of one or more of the globin genes of the globin chain. Each chain has its own gene. The most common single-chain thalassemia is thalassemia intermedia, which occurs when one of the α-chains is defective. Moreover, when one of the alpha-chains is present in the red blood cells produces a sufficient amount to support the body’s needs. If the globin chain is defective, then the cells cannot survive, and they might die.

A person who carries two defective alpha chains, one from each parent, produces a very low hemoglobin level. Patients with this disorder must take regular blood transfusions to replace the missing globin chains because their bodies cannot produce enough of the needed globin chains. An Alpha-Thalassemia patient has a life expectancy of 20–30 years from birth if untreated.

What is Beta-Thalassemia?

Beta-thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes reduced levels of the beta chains, which usually form part of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Moreover, this disorder is characterized by the reduced production of normal red blood cells. Reduced levels of hemoglobin lead to anemia, which can result in pale skin color, feeling tired and weak, shortness of breath, and swelling.

There are three different types of Beta-Thalassemia, including Hb E, Hb S, and Hb C. The prevalence of Beta-Thalassemia varies depending on the type, which is why doctors must perform a thorough physical examination before determining the condition of a patient’s health. Beta thalassemia can be difficult to diagnose because many people with the disorder don’t have any symptoms. Some possible symptoms include anemia, fatigue, pale skin color, and low red blood cell counts. Beta-thalassemia may also cause liver or spleen abnormalities.

The inherited blood disorder Beta-Thalassemia is often found in individuals with one parent who has Beta-Thalassemia. However, it can also occur in people that don’t have an affected parent. The inherited blood disorder Beta-Thalassemia is usually diagnosed based on the person’s family history and medical history. A complete physical exam will also help determine whether a person has Beta-Thalassemia. Blood tests may include red blood cell counts, blood chemistry, and DNA analysis.

Main Differences Between Alpha-Thalassemia and Beta-Thalassemia

  1. Alpha-Thalassemia is an inherited metabolic blood disorder that happens when the alpha chain is defective, whereas Beta-thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes reduced levels of the beta chains that usually form part of hemoglobin.
  2. Alpha-Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder where one of the α-chains is defective. As a result, it produces a very low hemoglobin level, whereas, Beta thalassemia is a hereditary blood disorder that reduced levels of the beta chains in red blood cells, which reduces the production of normal red blood cells.
  3. There are four different types of Alpha-Thalassemia, including Hb H, carrier, silent carrier, and major, whereas, There are three different types of Beta-Thalassemia, including Hb E, Hb S, and Hb C.
  4. Some possible symptoms of Alpha-Thalassemia include anemia, fatigue, jaundice, and pale skin color, whereas, Some possible symptoms of Beta-thalassemia include anemia, fatigue, pale skin color, liver or spleen abnormalities, and low red blood cell counts.
  5. Diagnosis of Alpha-Thalassemia can be made by DNA analysis, blood chemistry, and globin chain analysis, whereas, Diagnosis of Beta-Thalassemia Blood tests include red blood cell counts, blood chemistry, and DNA analysis.

Conclusion

Thalassemia refers to a group of inherited metabolic blood disorders that affect the globin chain of hemoglobin. The primary symptom of thalassemia is the production of inadequate amounts of hemoglobin, causing poor oxygen transport to tissues and organs. The most common form of thalassemia involves Alpha-globin gene defects and Beta-globin gene defects Thalassemias. Moreover, these are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner.

Alpha-Thalassemia and Beta-Thalassemia are rare hereditary blood disorders that may result in heart failure or liver diseases. Moreover, there is no cure for these two disorders. However, they can be controlled by treatments.

References

  1. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0815/p339
  2. https://www.haematologica.org/article/view/3956
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