Non-invasively assessed pulmonary pressure elevations and left ventricular diastolic dysfunction (LVDD) are associated with increased mortality in adults with sickle cell disease (SCD), but their relationship to exercise intolerance has not been evaluated prospectively.
Methods and Results
Echocardiography, six-minute walk distance, hemolytic rate, and serum concentrations of ferritin and erythropoietin were evaluated in a cohort of 483 subjects with homozygous hemoglobin S in the US and UK Walk-PHaSST study. Tricuspid regurgitation velocity (TRV), which reflects systolic pulmonary artery pressure, was 2.7 to <3.0 m/sec (mean±SD 2.8±0.1) in 26% of the subjects and ≥3.0 m/sec (3.4±0.4) in 11%. LV lateral E/e′ ratio, which has been shown to reflect LV filling pressure in other conditions but has not been studied in SCD, was significantly higher in the groups with TRV ≥2.7 m/sec. Increased hemolysis (P<0.0001), LV lateral E/e′ ratio (P=0.0001), BUN (P=0.0002) and erythropoietin (P=0.002) were independently associated with an increased TRV. Further, female gender (P<0.0001), older age (P<0.0001), LV lateral E/e′ ratio (P=0.014), and TRV (P=0.019) were independent predictors of a shorter six-minute walk distance.
Echocardiography-estimated elevated pulmonary artery systolic pressure and LV lateral E/e′ ratio were independently associated with poor exercise capacity in a large cohort of patients with sickle cell anemia. Controlled trials investigating whether strategies to prevent or delay pulmonary hypertension and/or LVDD will improve exercise capacity and long-term outcomes in sickle cell anemia should be considered.
sickle cell anemia; pulmonary hypertension; left ventricular diastolic dysfunction; echocardiography; six-minute walk
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is associated with adverse outcomes in adults with sickle cell disease (SCD) but its importance in children is less clear. We define the incidence and etiologies of PH in pediatric patients with SCD. Children with SCD (n = 310) and matched controls (n = 54) were prospectively enrolled under basal conditions. Participants underwent echocardiography, pulse oximetry, 6-minute walk, and hematologic testing. Echocardiographic measures were compared between SCD and control subjects before and after adjusting for hemoglobin. Correlation of echocardiographic and clinical parameters was performed. Tricuspid regurgitation velocity (TRV) was elevated compared to controls (2.28 vs. 2.10 m/s, p <0.0001). Increased TRV was associated with left ventricular diastolic diameter, hemoglobin, and estimated left atrial pressure. TRV remained elevated when controlled for left ventricular diameter and left atrial pressure. An echocardiography-derived pulmonary resistance was not significantly different between SCD and control patients, although it was elevated in the SCD subgroup with elevated TRV. When controlled for hemoglobin, TRV was no longer statistically different, but pulmonary insufficiency velocity, septal wall thickness and estimated pulmonary resistance were statistically higher. TRV, pulmonary insufficiency end diastolic velocity, and markers of increased cardiac output correlated with indicators of adverse functional status including history of acute chest syndrome, stroke, transfusions, and 6-minute walk. In conclusion, children with SCD have mildly increased TRV that correlated with increased cardiac output and left ventricular filling pressures. Hemoglobin adjusted analysis also suggests contribution of primary vascular changes.
Pulmonary hypertension; Tricuspid regurgitation; Pulmonary vascular resistance; Sickle cell
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), once considered a rare complication of sickle cell disease (SCD) and thalassemia, appears to be more common in adults with hemoglobinopathy than previously appreciated. On prospective screening of adults with SCD, approximately one-third of adults are found on echocardiography to have a tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity (TRV) of 2.5 m/s or higher, many of whom are asymptomatic. Dyspnea on exertion is the most common presenting symptom. This TRV abnormality is a marker for approximately 40% 3-year mortality in adults, and it is associated with laboratory values suggestive of more severe intravascular hemolysis. Release of hemoglobin and arginase from lysed red cells causes scavenging of nitric oxide (NO) and catabolism of L-arginine, the obligate substrate for NO synthase. The resulting impairment in NO bioavailability is associated with pulmonary vasoconstriction, endothelial dysfunction, thrombosis, and eventual development of plexogenic arterial lesions, the histological hallmark of all forms of PAH. Undoubtedly, additional pathophysiological mechanisms will also play a role in its multifactorial pathogenesis. Early data from children with SCD indicate a similar prevalence of elevated TRV, but the prognostic implications of this remain to be established. Individual patient diagnosis of PAH requires confirmation by right heart catheterization studies and individualized management. Hemolysis-associated PAH with impairments in NO bioavailability is being identified in thalassemia and other hemolytic disorders, and may be a general consequence of long-standing, severe intravascular hemolytic anemia.
sickle cell; thalassemia; pulmonary hypertension; nitric oxide; arginase
The goal of this study was to characterize left ventricular diastolic function in the sickle cell disease (SCD) population and to relate echocardiographic measures of dysfunction with pulmonary hypertension and mortality.
Pulmonary hypertension has been identified as a predictor of death in the adult SCD population. Although diastolic dysfunction is also observed in this population, its prevalence, association with high pulmonary artery systolic pressure, and attributable mortality remain unknown.
Diastolic function assessment using tissue Doppler imaging was performed in a group of 141 SCD patients. Conventional echocardiographic parameters of diastolic function were performed in a total of 235 SCD patients.
Diastolic dysfunction was present in 18% of patients. A combination of diastolic dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension was present in 11% of patients, and diastolic dysfunction accounted for only 10% to 20% of the variability in tricuspid regurgitation (TR) jet velocity. Diastolic dysfunction, as reflected by a low E/A ratio, was associated with mortality with a risk ratio of 3.5 (95% confidence interval 1.5 to 8.4, p < 0.001), even after adjustment for tricuspid regurgitation (TR) jet velocity. The presence of both diastolic dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension conferred a risk ratio for death of 12.0 (95% confidence interval 3.8 to 38.1, p < 0.001).
Diastolic dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension each contribute independently to prospective mortality in patients with SCD. Patients with both risk factors have an extremely poor prognosis. These data support the implementation of echocardiographic screening of adult patients with SCD to identify high-risk individuals for further evaluation.
Pulmonary artery systolic hypertension is common and associated with increased mortality among adult sickle cell disease (SCD) patients in the United States. While the prevalence of SCD is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, the frequency of pulmonary artery systolic hypertension and the risk factors for the development of pulmonary hypertension have not been reported from Africa. We studied 208 hydroxyurea naïve Nigerian SCD patients at steady state and 94 healthy controls. Pulmonary artery systolic hypertension was defined prospectively as tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity ≥2.5 meters per second. Results were compared with a previously published US prospective SCD cohort. Only 7% of Nigerians compared to 46% of US adults with SCD were >35 years. Tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity was ≥2.5 m/second in 25% of Nigerian SCD patients. Higher jet velocity was associated with greater serum globulin (P=0.002), blood urea nitrogen (P=0.019) and lactate dehydrogenase concentrations (P=0.026) and with inability to walk >300 meters in six minutes (P=0.042). Compared to the US cohort, Nigerian patients had more hemolysis as indicated by lower hemoglobin and higher lactate dehydrogenase concentrations (P ≤0.003). Pulmonary hypertension is common among Nigerian SCD patients. The public health implication of this finding is significant considering the potential number of individuals at risk for this complication. Better understanding of the long term outcome of pulmonary hypertension and causes of death in SCD and the institution of preventive measures are major public health challenges for Africa. The inclusion of African sites in sickle cell pulmonary hypertension clinical trials should be encouraged.
Pulmonary hypertension; sickle cell disease; Nigeria
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) in sickle cell disease (SCD) is an emerging and important clinical problem. In a single-institution adult cohort of 365 patients, we investigated lipid and lipoprotein levels and their relationship to markers of intravascular hemolysis, vascular dysfunction and PH. In agreement with prior studies, we confirm significantly decreased plasma levels of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) in SCD vs. ethnically-matched healthy controls. Several cholesterol parameters correlate significantly with markers of anemia, but not endothelial activation or PH. More importantly, serum triglyceride levels are significantly elevated in SCD compared to controls. Elevated triglyceride levels correlate significantly with markers of hemolysis (lactate dehydrogenase and arginase; both p<0.0005), endothelial activation (soluble E-selectin, p<0.0001; soluble P-selectin, p=0.02; soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, p=0.01), inflammation (leukocyte count, p=0.0004; erythrocyte sedimentation rate, p=0.02) and PH (amino-terminal brain natriuretic peptide, p=0.002; prevalence of elevated tricuspid regurgitant velocity (TRV), p<0.001). In a multivariate analysis, triglyceride levels correlate independently with elevated TRV (p=0.002). Finally, forearm blood flow studies in adult patients with SCD demonstrate a significant association between increased triglyceride/HDL-C ratio and endothelial dysfunction (p<0.05). These results characterize elevated plasma triglyceride levels as a potential risk factor for PH in SCD.
Elevated pulmonary arterial systolic pressure is strongly associated with mortality in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). A tricuspid regurgitant velocity (TRV) of 2.5 m/s or greater by trans-thoracic echocardiogram is a key marker of risk [1–3]. The pathophysiologic mechanism involves release from the red cell during intravascular hemolysis of cell-free plasma hemoglobin and arginase . Hydroxyurea is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administrations specifically for SCD. It acts by increasing levels of fetal hemoglobin, which inhibits sickling, and has been shown to reduce the incidence of vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC), and prolong survival in patients with sickle cell disease [5,6]. Because fetal hemoglobin also reduces the rate of hemolysis in SCD, hypothetically, hydroxyurea might also reduce the severity of hemolysis-linked vascular dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension. Herein, we describe five patients with sickle cell disease having elevated pulmonary arterial systolic pressure who exhibited improvement in their baseline laboratory parameters of hemolysis, accompanied by reduced TRV, during treatment with hydroxyurea. Hydroxyurea may have a role in the management of selected patients with elevated TRV.
To identify factors associated with frequent severe vaso-occlusive pain crises in a contemporary pediatric cohort of sickle cell anemia (SCA)enrolled in a prospective study of pulmonary hypertension and the hypoxic response in sickle cell disease (SCD).
Clinical and laboratory characteristics of children with SCA who had ≥3 severe pain crises requiring health care in the preceding year were compared with subjects with <3 such episodes.
Seventy-five children (20%) reported ≥3 severe pain episodes in the preceding year, and 232 (61%) had none. Frequent pain episodes were associated with older age (OR 1.2; 95% CI 1.1–1.3; P<0.0001), α-thalassemia trait (OR 3.5; 1.6–6.7; P=0.002), higher median hemoglobin (OR 1.7; 95% CI: 1.2–2.4; P<0.003) and lower lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) concentration (OR 1.82; 95% CI: 1.07–3.11; P = 0.027). Children with high pain frequency also had an increased iron burden (serum ferritin 480 vs. 198 μg/L; P=0.006) and higher median tricuspid regurgitation jet velocity (2.41 vs. 2.31 m/s; P=0.001). Neither hydroxy urea use nor fetal hemoglobin levels were significantly different according to severe pain history.
In our cohort of children with SCA increasing age was associated with higher frequency of severe pain episodes as were α-thalassemia, iron overload, higher hemoglobin and lower LDH concentration and higher tricuspid regurgitation velocity.
Sickle cell anemia; vaso-occlusive crisis; pain
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a common comorbidity of sickle cell disease (SCD) with an associated increased mortality risk, but its etiology is not well-understood. To evaluate the hemodynamic characteristics, clinical predictors, and cardiovascular manifestations of elevated pulmonary arterial pressure in this population, we performed noninvasive hemodynamic assessments of 135 patients with SCD using Doppler echocardiography. A diagnosis of PH was based on gender-, age-, and body mass index (BMI)-specific normal reference ranges for tricuspid regurgitation jet velocities (TRV). A high TRV was noted in 34 (25%) of patients. Pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) was elevated in only 2 of the 34 patients (6%) with suspected PH, but was significantly higher than in those with a normal TRV. In univariate regression, TRV correlated with age, BMI, left atrial pressure, and right ventricular stroke volume, and was negatively associated with hemoglobin and glomerular filtration rate. Left atrial pressure, right ventricular stroke volume, and hemoglobin remained independent predictors of TRV in a multivariate model. A higher TRV was also associated with larger right ventricular and right atrial chamber sizes and higher N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide levels. Our results suggest that the mild elevation in TRV often observed in patients with SCD is rarely associated with a high PVR, and that multiple factors – including the compensatory high output state associated with anemia, pulmonary venous hypertension, and a pulmonary vasculopathy – may contribute to an elevated pulmonary arterial pressure in these patients.
Pulmonary hypertension; sickle cell disease; echocardiography
Chronic leg ulcers are a debilitating complication of sickle cell disease, associated with increased morbidity and perhaps mortality that affect 8 to 50% of patients. We evaluated the characteristics of SCD patients with a history of leg ulceration, including hemolytic rate, estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure, and other parameters in a cohort of 505 adults with SCD.
Ninety four subjects (18%) had either active ulcers at enrollment or history of leg ulceration. Patients affected were older and predominantly had homozygous SS, lower body mass index, and pulse oximetry, higher tricuspid regurgitation velocities, markers of hemolysis, serum uric acid and serum NT-proBNP, when compared to subjects without such history.
In this prospective cohort of adults with SCD, we confirm that leg ulcers are still frequent and are associated with elevated TRVand markers of hemolysis. We describe a novel association of leg ulcer with hyperuricemia and oxygen desaturation and suggest potential implications for uric acid as a marker of vascular dysfunction.
Sickle Cell Disease; Leg Ulcer; Pulmonary Hypertension; Hemolysis; Uric Acid
We analyzed entry data from 163 adult hemoglobin SS and Sβ0 thalassemia patients enrolled in the prospective Sickle Cell Pulmonary Hypertension Screening Study and stratified their ECHO-determined tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity (TRV) and serum creatinine concentration according to three blood pressure categories. TRV was ≥2.5 m/sec in 27% of the patients with systolic blood pressure (SBP) <120 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) <70 mm Hg, in 37% with SBP 120–139 mm Hg or DBP 70–89 mm Hg, and in 93% with SBP 140 mm Hg or DBP 90 mm Hg or higher (P <0.0005 for trend). Serum creatinine concentration was 1.0 mg/dL or higher in 7% of patients with SBP <120 mm Hg and DBP <70 mm Hg, in 17% with SBP 120–139 mm Hg or DBP 70–89 mm Hg and 50% with SBP 140 mm Hg or DBP 90 mm Hg or higher (P <0.0005 for trend). Over two years of follow-up, there were trends for more frequent progression to elevated TRV (P = 0.073) or creatinine (P = 0.038) values according to the higher systemic blood pressure categories. Our findings suggest that systolic SBP 120–139 mm Hg or DBP 70–89 mm Hg defines a category of relative systemic hypertension in patients with sickle cell disease that is associated with increased risk for pulmonary hypertension and renal dysfunction. Whether antihypertensive and/or nitric oxide donor therapy in sickle cell disease patients with relative hypertension prevents these and other complications should be determined by clinical trials.
The role of pulmonary hypertension as a cause of mortality in sickle cell disease (SCD) is controversial.
Methods and Results
We evaluated the relationship between an elevated estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure and mortality in patients with SCD. We followed patients from the walk-PHaSST screening cohort for a median of 29 months. A tricuspid regurgitation velocity (TRV)≥3.0 m/s cuttof, which has a 67–75% positive predictive value for mean pulmonary artery pressure ≥25 mm Hg was used. Among 572 subjects, 11.2% had TRV≥3.0 m/sec. Among 582 with a measured NT-proBNP, 24.1% had values ≥160 pg/mL. Of 22 deaths during follow-up, 50% had a TRV≥3.0 m/sec. At 24 months the cumulative survival was 83% with TRV≥3.0 m/sec and 98% with TRV<3.0 m/sec (p<0.0001). The hazard ratios for death were 11.1 (95% CI 4.1–30.1; p<0.0001) for TRV≥3.0 m/sec, 4.6 (1.8–11.3; p = 0.001) for NT-proBNP≥160 pg/mL, and 14.9 (5.5–39.9; p<0.0001) for both TRV≥3.0 m/sec and NT-proBNP≥160 pg/mL. Age >47 years, male gender, chronic transfusions, WHO class III–IV, increased hemolytic markers, ferritin and creatinine were also associated with increased risk of death.
A TRV≥3.0 m/sec occurs in approximately 10% of individuals and has the highest risk for death of any measured variable.
The study is registered in ClinicalTrials.gov with identifier
N-terminal (NT) pro-brain natriuretic peptide (proBNP) ≥160 ng/l has a 78% positive predictive value for pulmonary hypertension and is associated with increased mortality in US sickle cell disease patients, but the importance in sickle cell disease patients in Africa is not known. In a cross-sectional study at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika-Zaria, Nigeria, we studied 133 hydroxycarbamide-naïve Nigerian sickle cell anaemia patients aged 18-52 years at steady-state and 65 healthy controls. Twenty-six percent of patients versus 5% of controls had NT-proBNP ≥160 ng/l (P=0.0006). By logistic regression among the patients, human immunodeficiency virus seropositivity, higher serum ferritin and lower haemoglobin or higher lactate dehydrogenase independently predicted elevated NT-proBNP. After adjustment for haemoglobin concentration, elevated NT-proBNP concentration was associated with an estimated 7.8-fold increase in the odds of severe functional impairment, defined as an inability to walk more than 300 m in six min (95% confidence interval 1.5-32.6; P=0.005). Similarly, elevated tricuspid regurgitation velocity was associated with an estimated 5.6-fold increase in the odds of functional impairment (95% confidence interval 1.5-21.0; P=0.011). In conclusion, NT-proBNP elevation is common and is associated with markers of anaemia, inflammation and iron status and with severe functional impairment among sickle cell anaemia patients in Nigeria.
sickle cell disease; N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide; six-minute walk; haemolysis; Africa
In sickle cell disease (SCD), pulmonary hypertension (assessed by tricuspid regurgitant jet [TRJ] velocity ≥ 2.5 m/s) is associated with increased mortality. The relationships between TRJ velocity, left ventricular (LV) and right ventricular (RV) systolic and diastolic function (i.e., relaxation and compliance) have not been well characterized in SCD.
Design and Methods
Prospective study of 53 ambulatory SCD adults (age, mean: 34 years; range 21-65 years) and 33 African American controls to define the relationship between LV and RV function and TRJ velocity by use of echocardiography.
SCD subjects had larger left and right atrial volumes and increased LV mass compared to controls. When SCD cases were compared to controls, LV and RV relaxation (i.e., E’) were similar. Among SCD subjects, pulmonary hypertension (TRJ ≥ 2.5 m/s) was present in 40% of cases. Higher TRJ velocity was correlated with larger LA volumes and areas in SCD cases. Additionally, some measures of LV (peak A, lateral and septal annulus E/E’) and RV compliance (TV E/E’) were correlated with TRJ velocity. No other measures of LV/RV systolic function or LV diastolic function (i.e., relaxation and compliance) were associated with TRJ velocity.
Ambulatory adults with SCD exhibited structural (i.e., LV and RV chamber enlargement) and functional (i.e., higher surrogate measures of LV and RV filling pressure) abnormalities compared to the control group. In SCD subjects, few abnormalities of LV and RV structure/function were associated with TRJ velocity.
Pulmonary hypertension; diastolic dysfunction; sickle cell disease
We aimed to identify risk factors for acute pulmonary events in children and adolescents in the Pulmonary Hypertension and the Hypoxic Response in SCD (PUSH) study.
Patients with hemoglobin SS (n=376) and other sickle cell genotypes (n=127) aged 3-20 years were studied at four centers in a cross-sectional manner. A sub-group (n=293) was followed for a median of 21 months (range 9-35).
A patient-reported history of one or more acute pulmonary events, either acute chest syndrome (ACS) or pneumonia, was obtained in 195 hemoglobin SS patients (52%) and 51 patients with other genotypes (40%). By logistic regression, history of acute pulmonary events was independently associated with patient-reported history of asthma (p<0.0001), older age (p=0.001), >3 severe pain episodes in the preceding 12 months (p=0.002), higher tricuspid regurgitation velocity (TRV) (p=0.028), and higher white blood cell (WBC) count (p=0.043) among hemoglobin SS patients. History of acute pulmonary events was associated with >3 severe pain episodes (p=0.009) among patients with other genotypes. During follow-up, 43 patients (15%) had at least one new ACS episode including 11 without a baseline history of acute pulmonary events. History of acute pulmonary events (odds ratio 5.4; p<0.0001) and younger age (odds ratio 0.9; p=0.010) were independently associated with developing a new episode during follow-up.
Asthma history, frequent pain and higher values for TRV and WBC count were independently associated with history of acute pulmonary events in hemoglobin SS patients and frequent pain was associated in those with other genotypes. Measures to reduce pain episodes and control asthma may help to decrease the incidence of acute pulmonary events in SCD.
sickle cell disease; acute chest syndrome; vaso-occlusive crisis; asthma; pain
Background: The vascular response to recurrent tissue hypoxia and reperfusion following red blood cell sickling causes acute chest syndrome and chronic lung disease. The purpose of this study was to determine the pattern of chronic lung lesions and possible risk factors in sickle cell patients in lagos, Nigeria.
Methods: From July 2012 to April 2013, Pulmonary function test (PFT) and chest-x-ray were determined in 56 eligible patients with sickle cell disease. Full blood count, red cell indices, hemoglobin F level, oxygen saturation, liver function tests, lactate dehydrogenase and tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity were measured.
Results: The mean age of the patients was 22±6 years. The mean forced vital capacity was low (76.49%±16). Abnormal PFTs were restrictive lung lesion (53%), obstructive lesions (3.7%) and mixed lesions (11%). The vital capacity had negative correlation with the white cell count and platelet count while it had positive correlation with age. There were no significant differences when normal and abnormal PFTs were compared based on the following laboratory data: lactate dehydrogenase (244 vs. 301), hematocrit (22.7 vs. 23.6), fetal hemoglobin (6.2% vs. 4.2%), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (33.7 vs 33.3), aspartate transferase (34.2 vs. 35.1), tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity (1.3 vs. 0.92) and oxygen saturation (95.8 vs. 95.5). Abnormal x-ray findings were present in 84% of participants. Chest x ray showed ischemic (17%), congestive (69%), fibrotic and inflammatory (14%) changes.
Conclusion: Chronic lung lesion is common in sickle cell disease associated with rising white cell count, platelet count. All adult patients should have regular spirometry done to ensure early detection.
Sickle cell disease; Tricuspid; Regurgitant; Jet velocity; Spirometry.
Low steady state haemoglobin oxygen saturation in patients with sickle cell anaemia has been associated with the degree of anaemia and haemolysis. How much pulmonary dysfunction contributes to low saturation is not clear. In a prospective study of children and adolescents with sickle cell disease aged 3–20 years at steady state and matched controls, 52% of 391 patients versus 24% of 63 controls had steady state oxygen saturation <99% (P < 0·0001), 9% of patients versus no controls had saturation <95% (P = 0·008) and 8% of patients versus no controls had exercise-induced reduction in saturation ≥3%. Decreasing haemoglobin concentration (P ≤ 0·001) and increasing haemolysis (P ≤ 0·003) but not pulmonary function tests were independent predictors of both lower steady-state saturation and exercise-induced reduction in saturation. Neither history of stroke nor history of acute chest syndrome was significantly associated with lower steady-state oxygen saturation or exercise-induced reduction in saturation. Tricuspid regurgitation velocity was higher in patients with lower steady state haemoglobin oxygen saturation (P = 0·003) and with greater decline in oxygen saturation during the six-minute walk (P = 0·022). In conclusion, lower haemoglobin oxygen saturation is independently associated with increasing degrees of anaemia and haemolysis but not pulmonary function abnormalities among children and adolescents with sickle cell disease.
sickle cell disease; paediatric; oxygen saturation; six-minute walk; pulmonary hypertension
A seeming paradox of sickle cell disease is that patients do not suffer from a high prevalence of systemic hypertension in spite of endothelial dysfunction, chronic inflammation and vasculopathy. However, some patients do develop systolic hypertension and increased pulse pressure, an increasingly recognized major cardiovascular risk factor in other populations. Hence, we hypothesized that pulse pressure, unlike other blood pressure parameters, is independently associated with markers of hemolytic anemia and cardiovascular risk in sickle cell disease. We analyzed the correlates of pulse pressure in patients (n = 661) enrolled in a multicenter international sickle cell trial. Markers of hemolysis were analyzed as independent variables and as a previously validated hemolytic index that includes multiple variables. We found that pulse pressure, not systolic, diastolic or mean arterial pressure, independently correlated with high reticulocyte count (beta = 2.37, p = 0.02) and high hemolytic index (beta = 1.53, p = 0.002) in patients with homozygous sickle cell disease in two multiple linear regression models which include the markers of hemolysis as independent variables or the hemolytic index, respectively. Pulse pressure was also independently associated with elevated serum creatinine (beta = 3.21, p = 0.02), and with proteinuria (beta = 2.52, p = 0.04). These results from the largest sickle cell disease cohort to date since the Cooperative Study of Sickle Cell Disease show that pulse pressure is independently associated with hemolysis, proteinuria and chronic kidney disease. We propose that high pulse pressure may be a risk factor for clinical complications of vascular dysfunction in sickle cell disease. Longitudinal and mechanistic studies should be conducted to confirm these hypotheses.
Sickle cell disease is characterized by recurrent episodes of ischemia-reperfusion injury to multiple vital organ systems and a chronic hemolytic anemia, both contributing to progressive organ dysfunction. The introduction of treatments that induce protective fetal hemoglobin and reduce infectious complications has greatly prolonged survival. However, with increased longevity, cardiovascular complications are increasingly evident, with the notable development of a progressive proliferative systemic vasculopathy, pulmonary hypertension (PH) and left ventricular diastolic dysfunction. Pulmonary hypertension is reported in autopsy studies and numerous clinical studies have shown that increased pulmonary pressures are an important risk marker for mortality in these patients. In epidemiological studies, the development of PH is associated with intravascular hemolysis, cutaneous leg ulceration, renal insufficiency, iron overload and liver dysfunction. Chronic anemia in sickle cell disease results in cardiac chamber dilation and a compensatory increase in left ventricular mass. This is often accompanied by left ventricular diastolic dysfunction which has also been a strong independent predictor of mortality patients with sickle cell disease. Both PH and diastolic dysfunction are associated with marked abnormalities in exercise capacity in these patients. Sudden death is an increasingly recognized problem and further cardiac investigations are necessary to recognize and treat high-risk patients.
Sickle; Cell; Disease
Pulmonary Hypertension is a serious complication of sickle cell disease (SCD), with a high risk of morbidity and mortality. Endothelin-1, a potent vasoconstrictor peptide known to be elevated in SCD, acts through two receptors: ETR-A and ETR-B. Bosentan and ambrisentan are ETR blockers approved for use in primary pulmonary hypertension. We report on the use of ETR blocking agents in a cohort of 14 high-risk adult patients with SCD and pulmonary hypertension. Patients underwent right heart catheterization, 6-min walk test, echocardiogram, physical examination and laboratory studies prior to starting ETR blocking agents. Six patients received bosentan and two ambrisentan as initial therapy. Six additional patients were already on sildenafil when ETR blocking agents were added. Over at least six months of therapy, sequential measurements of 6-min walk distance increased significantly (mean ± standard error baseline 357 ± 22 m, 1–2 months 367 ± 17 m, 3–4 months 387 ± 16 m, 5–6 months 398 ± 18 m, n=12, p<0.05, ANOVA with repeated measures). Nonsignificant downward trends were also observed for amino-terminal brain natriuretic peptide and tricuspid regurgitant velocity. Pulmonary artery mean pressures decreased in the three patients that had a repeat right heart catheterization from a mean of 44 to 38 mmHg, although this was not statistically significant. Adverse events while on ETR blocking therapy were similar to the ones reported on patients with primary PH: increase in serum alanine aminotransferase (2), increased peripheral edema (3), rash (4), and headache. Therapy was stopped in two patients, who were switched to the other ETR blocking agent, with resolution of symptoms. These data suggest preliminary evidence for benefit from the use of bosentan and ambrisentan and supports their use in pulmonary hypertension in SCD.
Elevated Tricuspid Regurgitant Velocity (TRV) has been related to higher mortality in adults and to hemolysis, lower oxygen saturation during 6-minute walk test and acute chest syndrome (ACS) in children with sickle cell disease (SCD). Hydroxyurea (HU) has reduced TRV value in children and adults. We describe a three year old HbSS child with recurrent ACS, hypoperfusion of the left lung, mild hemolysis and persistent TRV elevation. TRV did not normalize after HU, despite improvement in clinical conditions and in baseline laboratory parameters related to hemolysis and blood viscosity, but normalized after bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Our experience suggests that in young patients, TRV reduction can be a positive concomitant effect of BMT.
sickle-cell disease; pulmonary hypertension; tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity; hydroxyurea, bone marrow transplantation.
Rationale: An increased tricuspid regurgitation jet velocity (TRV > 2.5 m/s) and pulmonary hypertension defined by right heart catheterization both independently confer increased mortality in sickle cell disease (SCD).
Objectives: We explored the usefulness of peripheral blood mononuclear cell–derived gene signatures as biomarkers for an elevated TRV in SCD.
Methods: Twenty-seven patients with SCD underwent echocardiography and peripheral blood mononuclear cell isolation for expression profiling and 112 patients with SCD were genotyped for single-nucleotide polymorphisms.
Measurements and Main Results: Genome-wide gene and miRNA expression profiles were correlated against TRV, yielding 631 transcripts and 12 miRNAs. Support vector machine analysis identified a 10-gene signature including GALNT13 (encoding polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 13) that discriminates patients with and without increased TRV with 100% accuracy. This finding was then validated in a cohort of patients with SCD without (n = 10) and with pulmonary hypertension (n = 10, 90% accuracy). Increased TRV-related miRNAs revealed strong in silico binding predictions of miR-301a to GALNT13 corroborated by microarray analyses demonstrating an inverse correlation between their expression. A genetic association study comparing patients with an elevated (n = 49) versus normal (n = 63) TRV revealed five significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms within GALNT13 (P < 0.005), four trans-acting (P < 2.1 × 10−7) and one cis-acting (P = 0.6 × 10−4) expression quantitative trait locus upstream of the adenosine-A2B receptor gene (ADORA2B).
Conclusions: These studies validate the clinical usefulness of genomic signatures as potential biomarkers and highlight ADORA2B and GALNT13 as potential candidate genes in SCD-associated elevated TRV.
microarray; candidate gene approach; eQTL; pulmonary hypertension
Sickle cell disease is characterized by a state of nitric oxide (NO) resistance and limited bioavailability of L-arginine, the substrate for NO synthesis. We hypothesized that increased arginase activity and dysregulated arginine metabolism contribute to endothelial dysfunction, pulmonary hypertension and patient outcome.
To explore the role of arginase in sickle cell disease pathogenesis, pulmonary hypertension and prospective mortality.
Plasma amino acid levels, plasma and erythrocyte arginase activities, and pulmonary hypertension status as measured by Doppler-echocardiogram were prospectively obtained in outpatients with sickle cell disease. Patients were followed for survival up to 49 months.
Urban, tertiary care center and community clinics.
Two hundred twenty-eight patients with sickle cell disease aged 18 to 74 years and 36 control subjects.
Main Outcome Measures
Plasma amino acid levels, plasma and erythrocyte arginase activities, diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, and mortality.
Plasma arginase activity was significantly elevated in patients with sickle cell disease, with highest activity found in subjects with secondary pulmonary hypertension. Arginase activity correlated with the arginine-to-ornithine ratio, and lower ratios were associated with greater severity of pulmonary hypertension and with mortality in this population (risk ratio: 2.5; 95% confidence interval [1.2, 5.2], p=0.006). Global arginine bioavailability, characterized by the arginine-to-(ornithine plus citrulline) ratio, was also strongly associated with mortality (risk ratio: 3.6; [1.5, 8.3], p<0.001). Increased plasma arginase activity was highly correlated with increased intravascular hemolytic rate and, to a lesser extent, markers of inflammation and soluble adhesion molecule levels.
These data support a novel mechanism of disease in which hemolysis contributes to reduced NO bioavailability and endothelial dysfunction, via release of erythrocyte arginase, which limits arginine bioavailability, and release of erythrocyte hemoglobin, which scavenges NO. The arginine-to-ornithine and arginine-to-(ornithine plus citrulline) ratios are independently associated with pulmonary hypertension and increased mortality in patients with sickle cell disease.
The contribution of hypercoagulability to the pathophysiology of sickle cell disease (SCD) remains poorly defined. We sought to evaluate the association of markers of coagulation and platelet activation with specific clinical complications and laboratory variables in patients with SCD.
Design and Methods
Plasma markers of coagulation activation (D-dimer and TAT), platelet activation (soluble CD40 ligand), microparticle-associated tissue factor (MPTF) procoagulant activity and other laboratory variables were obtained in a cohort of patients with SCD. Tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity was determined by Doppler echocardiography and the presence/history of clinical complications was ascertained at the time of evaluation, combined with a detailed review of the medical records.
No significant differences in the levels of D-dimer, TAT, soluble CD40 ligand, and MPTF procoagulant activity were observed between patients in the SS/SD/Sβ0 thalassemia and SC/Sβ+ thalassemia groups. Both TAT and D-dimer were significantly correlated with measures of hemolysis (lactate dehydrogenase, indirect bilirubin and hemoglobin) and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1. In patients in the SS/SD/Sβ0 thalassemia group, D-dimer was associated with a history of stroke (p = 0.049), TAT was associated with a history of retinopathy (p = 0.0176), and CD40 ligand was associated with the frequency of pain episodes (p = 0.039). In multivariate analyses, D-dimer was associated with reticulocyte count, lactate dehydrogenase, NT-proBNP and history of stroke; soluble CD40 ligand was associated with WBC count and platelet count; and MPTF procoagulant activity was associated with hemoglobin and history of acute chest syndrome.
This study supports the association of coagulation activation with hemolysis in SCD. The association of D-dimer with a history of stroke suggests that coagulation activation may contribute to the pathophysiology of stroke in clinically severe forms of SCD. More research is needed to evaluate the contribution of coagulation and platelet activation to clinical complications in SCD.
Medical advances in the management of patients with sickle cell disease, thalassemia, and other hemolytic anemias have led to significant increases in life expectancy. Improved public health, neonatal screening, parental and patient education, advances in red cell transfusion medicine, iron chelation therapy, penicillin prophylaxis for children, pneumococcal immunization, and hydroxyurea therapy have all likely contributed to this effect on longevity.1,2 Importantly, as a generation of patients with sickle cell disease and thalassemia ages, new chronic complications of these hemoglobinopathies develop. In this context, pulmonary hypertension is emerging as one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in adult sickle cell and thalassemia patients, and likely in patients with other hemolytic anemias. A common feature of both sickle cell disease and thalassemia is intravascular hemolysis and chronic anemia. Recent data suggest that chronic intravascular hemolysis is associated with a state of endothelial dysfunction characterized by reduced nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability, pro-oxidant and pro-inflammatory stress and coagulopathy, leading to vasomotor instability and ultimately producing a proliferative vasculopathy, a hallmark of which is the development of pulmonary hypertension in adulthood.3–5 In conclusion, pulmonary hypertension is common in patients with hereditary hemolytic anemias and is associated with a high risk of death in patients with sickle cell disease. New therapies targeting this vasculopathy and aimed at normalizing the vasodilator:vasoconstrictor balance are discussed.