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 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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) is linked to intravascular hemolysis, impaired nitric oxide bioavailability, renal dysfunction, and early mortality. Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthases (NOS), is associated with vascular disease in other populations. We determined the plasma concentrations for several key arginine metabolites and their relationships to clinical variables in 177 patients with SCD and 29 control subjects: ADMA, symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA), NG-monomethyl L-arginine (L-NMMA), N-omega-hydroxy-L-arginine (NOHA), arginine and citrulline. The median ADMA was significantly higher in SCD than controls (0.94 vs. 0.31 μmol/L, p<0.001). Patients with homozygous SCD had a remarkably lower ratio of arginine to ADMA (50 vs. 237, p<0.001). ADMA correlated with markers of hemolysis, low oxygen saturation and soluble adhesion molecules. PH was associated with high levels of ADMA and related metabolites. Higher ADMA level was associated with early mortality, remaining significant in a multivariate analysis. Subjects with homozygous SCD have high systemic levels of ADMA, associated with PH and early death, implicating ADMA as a functional NOS inhibitor in these patients. These defects and others converge on the nitric oxide pathway in homozygous SCD with vasculopathy.
Sickle Cell Disease; ADMA; SDMA; NOHA; Arginine; Pulmonary Hypertension
Sickle-cell disease (SCD) is an inherited hemoglobin childhood disorder, frequently complicated by pulmonary hypertension and cardiac involvement. Cardiovascular events and complications are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in patients with SCD. Tissue Doppler imaging and the myocardial performance index (Tei index), are simple indices for the assessment of the cardiac function. The purpose of this study was to assess the left ventricular function in children with SCD.
Sixty-four patients with SCD (mean age = 11.7 ± 5.5 years) were compared with 50 age-matched healthy controls (mean age = 11.2 ± 5.20 years). Myocardial wall motion velocities at the lateral mitral annulus and the junction between the medial mitral annulus and the interventricular septum were assessed during systole (Sa), early diastole (Ea), and late diastole (Aa) through a four-chamber view using pulsed Doppler echocardiography. The ejection fraction and shortening fraction were estimated. The Tei index was estimated via tissue Doppler echocardiography.
The results showed that Ea and Aa velocity in the mitral annulus and interventricular septum had no difference between the patients and controls (p value > 0.05), and nor was there any difference between the two groups as regards the Tei index, Ea/Aa, ejection fraction, and shortening fraction (p value > 0.05). Sam wave velocity, however, had a significant difference between the two groups (p value < 0.038).
The Tei index is a sensitive indicator for the cardiac function in chronic diseases and the right ventricular function in some disorders such as SCD.
Elasticity imaging techniques; Anemia, sickle cell; Heart function tests
A 34-year-old African American woman with sickle cell disease and history of relatively severe hemolysis, chronic leg ulcers, and mild pulmonary hypertension presented with a new ischemic stroke. Recent research has suggested a syndrome of hemolysis-associated vasculopathy in patients with sickle cell disease, which features severe hemolytic anemia and leads to scavenging of nitric oxide and its biochemical precursor L-arginine. This diminished bioavailability of nitric oxide promotes a hemolysis-vascular dysfunction syndrome, which includes pulmonary hypertension, cutaneous leg ulceration, priapism, and ischemic stroke. Additional correlates of this vasculopathy include activation of endothelial cell adhesion molecules, platelets, and the vascular protectant hemeoxygenase-1. Some known risk factors for atherosclerosis are also associated with sickle cell vasculopathy, including low levels of apolipoprotein AI and high levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine, an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase. Identification of dysregulated vascular biology pathways in sickle vasculopathy has provided a focus for new clinical trials for therapeutic intervention, including inhaled nitric oxide, sodium nitrite, L-arginine, phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors, niacin, inhaled carbon monoxide, and endothelin receptor antagonists. This article reviews the pathophysiology of sickle vasculopathy and the results of preliminary clinical trials of novel small-molecule therapeutics directed at abnormal vascular biology in patients with sickle cell disease.
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
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
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.
Endothelial dysfunction plays an important role in the pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in sickle cell disease (SCD). A variety of evidence suggests that circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play an integral role in vascular repair. We hypothesized that SCD patients with PAH are deficient in EPCs, potentially contributing to endothelial dysfunction and disease progression. The number of circulating CD34+/CD14−/CD106+ EPCs was significantly lower in SCD patients with PAH than without PAH (P=0.025). CD34+/CD14−/CD106+ numbers significantly correlated with tricuspid regurgitation velocity (TRV, r=−0.44, P=0.033) 6-minute walk distance (6MWD, r= 0.72, P=0.001), mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP, r= −0.43, P=0.05), and pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR, r=−0.45, P=0.05). Other EPC subsets including CD31+/CD133+/CD146+ were similar between both groups. Numbers of EPCs did not correlate with age, sex, hemoglobin, WBC count, reticulocyte count, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), iron/ferritin levels, and serum creatinine. These data indicate that subsets of EPC are lower in SCD patients with PAH than in those without PAH. Fewer EPCs in PAH patients may contribute to the pulmonary vascular pathology. Reduced number of EPCs in SCD patients with PAH might not only give potential insight into the pathophysiological mechanisms but also might be useful for identifying suitable therapeutic targets in these patients.
associated pulmonary arterial hypertension; sickle cell disease; stem cell; pathogenic mechanism
Sickle cell anemia is a common and disabling disorder profoundly affecting mortality as well as quality of life. Up to 35% of men with sickle cell disease are affected by painful, prolonged erections termed ischemic priapism. A priapic episode may result in fibrosis and permanent erectile dysfunction. The severity of sickle cell disease manifestations is variable dependent on a number of contributing genetic factors; however, priapism tends to cluster with other severe vascular complications including pulmonary hypertension, leg ulceration, and overall risk of death. The mechanisms underlying priapism in sickle cell disease have begun to be elucidated including hemolysis-mediated dysregulation of the nitric oxide signaling pathway and dysregulation of adenosine-mediated vasodilation. A better understanding of these mechanisms is leading toward novel preventative strategies. This paper will focus on the mechanisms underlying development of ischemic priapism in sickle cell disease, current acute and preventative treatment strategies, and future directions for improved management of this disorder.
Background and objectives
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic, inherited haemoglobin disorder, associated with recurrent vaso-occlusive and haemolytic crises and chronic tissue ischemia which may adversely affect any organ system. Our objectives were to evaluate the left ventricular (LV) systolic and diastolic functions in Saudi patients with SCD originally from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
Design and setting
Prospective hospital based echocardiography study on adolescent and adult patients with SCD.
Forty-five patients with SCD were recruited for echocardiographic study while 45 patients, matched for age and sex, served as controls. Left and right ventricular dimensions and LV wall thicknesses, LV mass index (LVMI) and LV contractility variables were obtained. Left atrial dimension and volume and pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASP) were also estimated. We also evaluated parameters of LV diastolic function, including early and late mitral flow velocities (E and A wave respectively), E/A ratio, deceleration time (MVDT), A wave duration (MVA D), LV isovolumic relaxation time (IVRT), and tissue Doppler velocities, such as lateral annular e‘ wave, a‘ wave, e‘/a‘ ratio and E/e‘ ratio.
There were increases in the LV dimensions, LV volumes, stroke volume, and LVMI of the SCD patients. The preload was increased (LV diastolic volume) and afterload was decreased (low diastolic blood pressure). The LVEF was equivalent, though there was evidence of LV diastolic dysfunction in 24%, and pulmonary hypertension (PH) in 40% of the SCD patients. The mean left atrial volume (LAV) was also increased in the SCD patients.
LV diastolic dysfunction (heart failure with preserved ejection fraction) and PH may complicate cases of the Arab-Indian haplotype of SCD.
MVE vel, mitral valve flow E wave velocity (cm. sec); MVA vel, mitral valve flow A wave velocity (cm. sec); E/A, E wave/A wave ratio; MVDT, mitral valve deceleration time (ms); MVAD, mitral valve A wave duration (ms); TDI, tissue doppler imaging; Lat e‘, lateral annular e‘ wave velocity by TDI (cm. sec); Lat a‘, lateral annular a‘ wave velocity by TDI (cm. sec); e‘/a‘, e‘ wave/a‘ wave ratio; E/e‘, mitral flow E wave velocity/lateral annular e‘ wave velocity by TDI; Sickle cell disease; Left ventricular diastolic function; Left ventricular systolic function; Tissue doppler imaging
Pulmonary hypertension is a common complication of sickle cell disease (SCD) and a risk factor for early death. Hemolysis may participate in its pathogenesis by limiting nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability and producing vasculopathy. We hypothesized that hemoglobin mutations that diminish hemolysis in SCD would influence pulmonary hypertension susceptibility. Surprisingly, coincident α-thalassemia (OR = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.46 – 1.94, P = NS) was not associated with pulmonary hypertension susceptibility in homozygous SCD. However, pulmonary hypertension cases were less likely to have hemoglobin SC (Odds Ratio [OR] = 0.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.06 to 0.51, P = 0.0005) or Sβ+ thalassemia (OR = 0.25, 95% CI = 0.06 to 1.16, P = 0.10). These compound heterozygotes may be protected from pulmonary hypertension because of reduced levels of intravascular hemolysis, but develop this complication at a lower rate possibly due to the presence of non-hemolytic risk factors such as renal dysfunction, iron overload and advancing age. Despite this protective association, patients with SC who did develop pulmonary hypertension remained at significant risk for death during 49 months of follow-up (Hazard Ratio=8.20, P=0.0057).
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.
The vascular pathophysiology of sickle cell disease (SCD) is influenced by many factors including adhesiveness of red and white blood cells to endothelium, increased coagulation and homeostatic perturbation. The vascular endothelium is central to disease pathogenesis because it displays adhesion molecules for blood cells, balances procoagulant and anticoagulant properties of the vessel wall and regulates vascular homeostasis by synthesizing vasoconstricting and vasodilating substances. Occurrence of intermittent vascular occlusion in SCD leads to reperfusion injury associated with granulocyte accumulation and enhanced production of reactive oxygen species. The participation of nitric oxide (NO) in oxidative reactions causes a reduction in NO bioavailability and contributes to vascular dysfunction in SCD. Therapeutic strategies designed to counteract endothelial, inflammatory and oxidative abnormalities may reduce the frequency of hospitalization, blood transfusion, the incidence of pain and the occurrence of acute chest syndrome and pulmonary hypertension in patients with SCD.
Sickle cell disease; endothelium; nitric oxide
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.
Cardiac failure from myocardial iron deposition is a severe complication in patients with transfusion-related iron overload. Progressive heart damage from iron overload can cause left ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction in patients with hematologic disorders. Since non-transfused patients with sickle cell anemia (SCA) have a high incidence of diastolic dysfunction, we investigated the relationships among transfusional iron burden, myocardial iron deposition, and diastolic ventricular dysfunction by T2*-MRI and tissue Doppler echocardiography in iron-overloaded children with SCA.
Children (≥7 years) with SCA and iron overload (serum ferritin >1000 ng/ml or ≥18 lifetime transfusions) were eligible. Serum ferritin and hepatic iron content (HIC) were measured and participants underwent nonsedated T2*-MRI of the heart, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and multi-uptake gated acquisition (MUGA) scan. Age-matched normative echocardiographic data were used for comparison.
Among 30 children with SCA (median age, 13 years) and iron overload, mean (±SD) HIC and serum ferritin were 10.8 mg Fe/g (±5.9 mg Fe/g) and 3089 ng/mL (±2167 ng/mL), respectively. Mean T2*-MRI was 33 msec (±7 msec, range 22-49). Echocardiography showed a high prevalence of diastolic dysfunction (77% and 45% abnormally low mean mitral annular velocity and mean tricuspid annular velocity, respectively); however, echocardiogram and MUGA scan findings were not significantly associated with HIC or T2*-MRI.
Diastolic dysfunction is not associated with transfusional iron burden or myocardial iron deposition among children with SCA. Diastolic dysfunction likely results from disease pathophysiology and severity rather than iron overload.
T2*MRI; echocardiography; multi-uptake gated acquisition; diastolic dysfunction; systolic dysfunction; sickle cell disease
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.
Sickle cell anemia (SCA) associated cerebrovascular disease includes vascular remodeling, abnormal cerebral blood flow (CBF) and infarction. We studied the relationships between plasma brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), platelet derived growth factors (PDGF-AA and -AB/BB) and high trans-cranial Doppler (TCD) velocity, an indication of CBF velocity. Baseline plasma samples from 39 children (19 SCA with abnormal/high TCD [SATCD], 13 SCA with normal TCD [SNTCD] and 7 healthy non-SCA), were assayed for BDNF, PDGF-AA and – AB/BB plus 11 other cytokines. The sensitivity, specificity and usefulness of these biomarkers for prediction of stroke incidence was investigated. All subject groups were of similar age and gender distribution. Mean BDNF was significantly higher among SATCD than SNTCD (p=0.004) as was mean PDGF-AA (p=0.001). Similarly, mean PDGF-AA was higher among SCA subjects who developed stroke than for those who did not (p=0.012). Elevated BDNF and PDGF-AA were both associated with severity of anemia. Elevated BDNF and PDGF-AA were good predictors of the presence of abnormally high CBF velocity, and PDGF-AA predicted stroke development. Stroke incidence and high TCD velocity were associated with elevated BDNF and PDGF-AA. These findings suggest a role for BDNF and PDGF-AA in the patho-physiological mechanism of cerebrovascular disease in SCA.
Sickle cell anemia; Cerebral ischemia; Stroke; Biomarkers; Trans-cranial Doppler
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.