Open Access Open Badges Research article

Hemoglobin E syndromes in Pakistani population

Bushra Moiz*, Mashhooda Rasool Hashmi, Amna Nasir, Anila Rashid and Tariq Moatter

Author Affiliations

Department of Pathology and Microbiology, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Stadium road, Karachi 74800, Pakistan

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BMC Blood Disorders 2012, 12:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2326-12-3

Published: 25 March 2012



Hemoglobin E is an important hemoglobin variant with a worldwide distribution. A number of hemoglobinopathies have been reported from Pakistan. However a comprehensive description of hemoglobin E syndromes for the country was never made. This study aimed to describe various hemoglobin E disorders based on hematological parameters and chromatography. The sub-aim was to characterize hemoglobin E at molecular level.


This was a hospital based study conducted prospectively for a period of one year extending from January 1 to December 31, 2008. EDTA blood samples were analyzed for completed blood counts and hemoglobin variants through automated hematology analyzer and Bio-Rad beta thalassaemia short program respectively. Six samples were randomly selected to characterize HbE at molecular level through RFLP-PCR utilizing MnlI restriction enzyme.


During the study period, 11403 chromatograms were analyzed and Hb E was detected in 41 (or 0.36%) samples. Different hemoglobin E syndromes identified were HbEA (n = 20 or 49%), HbE/β-thalassemia (n = 14 or 34%), HbEE (n = 6 or 15%) and HbE/HbS (n = 1 or 2%). Compound heterozygosity for HbE and beta thalassaemia was found to be the most severely affected phenotype. RFLP-PCR utilizing MnlI successfully characterized HbE at molecular level in six randomly selected samples.


Various HbE phenotypes are prevalent in Pakistan with HbEA and HbE/β thalassaemia representing the most common syndromes. Chromatography cannot only successfully identify hemoglobin E but also assist in further characterization into its phenotype including compound heterozygosity. Definitive diagnosis of HbE can easily be achieved through RFLP-PCR.

Hemoglobin E; Hemoglobin variants; Pakistan