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1.  Vasculopathy, inflammation, and blood flow in leg ulcers of patients with sickle cell anemia 
Chronic leg ulcers are frequent and debilitating complications of sickle cell anemia. Inadequate blood supply has been postulated to be an important factor in their occurrence and delayed healing. Little is known about their microcirculatory and histopathological changes. We evaluated the microcirculation of lower extremity ulcers with laser speckle contrast imaging and infrared thermography and obtained clinical and laboratory characteristics in 18 adults with sickle cell anemia and chronic leg ulcers. Skin biopsies were obtained in four subjects. Subjects had markers of severe disease, anemia, high degree of hemolysis, inflammation, and thrombophilia. The highest blood flow was present in the ulcer bed, progressively less in the immediate periwound area, and an unaffected control skin area in the same extremity. Microscopic examination showed evidence of venostasis, inflammation, and vasculopathy. Blood vessels were increased in number, had activated endothelium and evidence of thrombosis/recanalization. High blood flow may be due to chronic inflammation, cutaneous vasodilatation, venostasis, and in situ thrombosis. These changes in skin microcirculation are similar to chronic venous ulcers in the non-sickle cell disease (SCD) population, thus suggesting that leg ulcers may be another end-organ complication with endothelial dysfunction that appears in patients with SCD at a younger age and with higher frequency than in the general population.
PMCID: PMC3946883  PMID: 23963836
Hemoglobin  2013;37(4):10.3109/03630269.2013.789968.
Leg ulcers are a debilitating complication of patients with sickle cell disease, and their frequency in North America was reported to be 2.5% by the Cooperative Study of Sickle Cell Disease more than 20 years ago. We sought to determine if the frequency of leg ulcers in sickle cell patients in the United States had declined and to assess which treatments providers use most commonly. We sent an e-mail survey to health professionals belonging to the national Sickle Cell Adult Provider Network. Responses were obtained from 31 of them (26.0%). Most of them (96.0%) reported having some patients with leg ulcers. Providers reported a total of 185 patients with active leg ulcers and 224 in the previous 5 years, for a total of 409 patients. Hb SS (homozygous sickle cell anemia) was the most common genotype of affected individuals, followed by Hb SC (double heterozygote for Hb S [β6(A3)Glu→Val, GAG>GTG; HBB: c.20A>T] and Hb C [β6(A3)Glu→Lys, GAG>AAG; HBB: c.19G>A]). Males showed a 2:1 predominance. Two-thirds of patients were treated with either hydroxyurea (HU) or transfusion therapy and most used compression stockings and topical therapies as directed by wound care services. We conclude that leg ulcers continue to be a debilitating complication of young adults with sickle cell disease, despite improved supportive care and the widespread use of disease modifying agents such HU and transfusion. While some providers offer office-based ulcer care, the majority prefer specialty consultation including podiatry, plastic surgery and dermatology. Despite their frequency, there is no clear consensus among providers as to the best treatment.
PMCID: PMC3864012  PMID: 23600469
Leg Ulcers; Sickle cell disease; Hydroxyurea (HU); Survey
3.  Laboratory and Echocardiography Markers in Sickle Cell Patients with Leg Ulcers 
American journal of hematology  2011;86(8):705-708.
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.
PMCID: PMC3245712  PMID: 21630312
Sickle Cell Disease; Leg Ulcer; Pulmonary Hypertension; Hemolysis; Uric Acid
4.  Topical sodium nitrite for chronic leg ulcers in patients with sickle cell anaemia: a phase 1 dose-finding safety and tolerability trial 
The Lancet. Haematology  2014;1(3):e95-e103.
Well-tolerated and effective treatments are needed for chronic leg ulcers in sickle cell anaemia. Topical sodium nitrite, a known nitric oxide donor, enhances blood flow in ulcers and has known bacteriostatic effects. We aimed to assess the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of topical sodium nitrite in patients with sickle cell disease and chronic leg ulcers.
We enrolled adult patients from an ambulatory clinic at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD, USA) with sickle cell anaemia with leg ulcers (with a surface area of 2.5–100 cm2) persisting for at least 4 weeks into a safety and tolerability phase 1 dose-escalation trial of topical sodium nitrite. Increasing concentrations of sodium nitrite cream were applied twice weekly for 4 weeks to one ulcer per patient at five dose levels (0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, 1.8%, and 2%). The primary endpoints were safety and tolerability, with secondary endpoints of pharmacokinetics, blood flow, and wound healing. Pain relief was analysed post hoc. Endpoints were analysed over time for the whole study population and according to dose level. This study is registered with, number NCT01316796.
Between April 4, 2011, and March 19, 2013, we enrolled 18 adult patients with sickle cell anaemia and leg ulcers into our trial. We assigned three patients into each cohort, and each cohort was treated with a different concentration of sodium nitrite cream (cohort 1: 0.5%, cohort 2: 1.0%, cohort 3: 1.5%, and cohort 4: 2.0%). Patients were not enrolled into the next cohort dose until we were able to establish that no dose-limiting toxicities were observed. An additional six patients were enrolled to cohort 3a: 1.8%, after two patients in cohort 4 had asymptomatic drops in diastolic blood pressure. No grade 3–4 adverse events were observed, and there were no serious adverse events or dose-limiting side-effects. Pharmacokinetic analysis showed that systemic absorption of sodium nitrite was very low. Application of topical sodium nitrite was associated with a significant increase in peri-wound cutaneous blood flow measured by laser speckle contrast imaging (p=0.0002), corroborated by increased peri-wound skin temperature by infrared thermography (p=0.0119). We recorded a dose-dependent decrease in leg ulcer size (p=0.0012) and pain (p<0.0001). Ulcers healed completely in three patients who received the highest concentrations of topical sodium nitrite (the 1.8% and 2% cream). In our post-hoc analysis of pain, brief pain inventory scores improved in pain severity (p=0.0048) and pain interference (p=0.0013).
Our results indicate that topical sodium nitrite 2% cream is suitable for additional clinical trials in adults with sickle cell anaemia to promote healing of leg ulcers.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Division of Intramural Research (National Institutes of Health).
PMCID: PMC4415859  PMID: 25938131
5.  Silent cerebral infarction, income, and grade retention among students with sickle cell anemia 
American journal of hematology  2014;89(10):E188-E192.
Children with sickle cell anemia have a higher-than-expected prevalence of poor educational attainment. We test two key hypotheses about educational attainment among students with sickle cell anemia, as measured by grade retention and use of special education services: (1) lower household per capita income is associated with lower educational attainment; (2) the presence of a silent cerebral infarct is associated with lower educational attainment. We conducted a multicenter, cross-sectional study of cases from 22 U.S. sites included in the Silent Infarct Transfusion Trial. During screening, parents completed a questionnaire that included sociodemographic information and details of their child’s academic status. Of 835 students, 670 were evaluable; 536 had data on all covariates and were used for analysis. The students’ mean age was 9.4 years (range: 5–15) with 52.2% male; 17.5% of students were retained one grade level and 18.3% received special education services. A multiple variable logistic regression model identified that lower household per capita income (odds ratio [OR] of quartile 1 = 6.36, OR of quartile 2 = 4.7, OR of quartile 3 = 3.87; P = 0.001 for linear trend), age (OR = 1.3; P < 0.001), and male gender (OR, 2.2; P = 0.001) were associated with grade retention; silent cerebral infarct (P = 0.31) and painful episodes (P = 0.60) were not. Among students with sickle cell anemia, household per capita income is associated with grade retention, whereas the presence of a silent cerebral infarct is not. Future educational interventions will need to address both the medical and socioeconomic issues that affect students with sickle cell anemia.
PMCID: PMC4261188  PMID: 25042018
6.  Liver Stiffness Increases Acutely During Sickle Cell Vaso-Occlusive Crisis 
American journal of hematology  2013;88(11):10.1002/ajh.23532.
Background & Aims
Acute vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) in sickle cell disease (SCD) is an important cause of end-organ damage. It is estimated that 10–39% of VOC occurs with hepatic involvement. Current assessments of hepatic involvement during VOC are unsatisfactory. We investigated transient elastography (TE) as a marker of hepatic involvement, its relationship with histology, and biochemical markers during VOC.
SCD patients were evaluated with biochemical markers and TE at steady-state and during VOC. Change in TE and biochemical markers were correlated to length of hospital stay. When available, liver biopsy and tricuspid regurgitation velocity (TRV) at steady-state were correlated with TE.
23 patients were evaluated (mean age=34.3 years, standard deviation=7.96). In 15 patients with liver biopsies, TE correlated with fibrosis (p=0.01) and TRV (p=0.0063), but not hepatic iron. Hemolysis biomarkers changed during VOC (p<0.022), but not alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Paired comparison of TE at steady-state and during VOC showed an increased from 6.2 to 12.3 kPa (p=0.0029). Increasing TE during VOC associated with increasing ALT and alkaline phosphatase (p=0.0088 and 0.0099, respectively). At steady-state, increasing inflammation on biopsy (p=0.0037) and TRV (p=0.0075) correlated with increasing TE during VOC. Increased hospital stay was associated with higher ALT (p=0.041), lower albumin (p=0.046), hemoglobin/hematocrit (p<0.0021) but not TE.
TE may identify patients with hepatic involvement during VOC independent of biochemical measures. Increase in TE may reflect both hepatic passive congestion and hepatic involvement during VOC. TE may serve as a physiological biomarker for hepatic features of VOC.
PMCID: PMC3808506  PMID: 23828202
Transient Elastography; Sickle Cell Disease; Vaso-Occlusive Crisis; Hepatic Crisis; Liver Stiffness
7.  Effect of Extended Release Niacin on Serum Lipids and on Endothelial Function in Adults with Sickle Cell Anemia and Low High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels 
The American journal of cardiology  2013;112(9):1499-1504.
Through bound apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) activates endothelial nitric oxide synthase, inducing vasodilation. Because patients with sickle cell disease (SCD)have low apoA-I andendothelial dysfunction,we conducted a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial to test whether extended-release niacin (niacin-ER) increases apoA-I-containing HDL-C, and improves vascular function in SCD. Twenty-seven SCD patientswith HDL-C <39 mg/dL or apoA-I <99 mg/dL were randomized to 12 weeks of niacin-ER, increased in 500mg increments to a maximum of 1500mg daily, or placebo. The primary outcome was the absolute change in HDL-C after 12 weeks, with endothelial function assessed before and at the end of treatment. Niacin-ER-treated patients trended to greater increase in HDL-C compared with placebo treatment at 12 weeks (5.1±7.7 vs. 0.9±3.8 mg/dL, one-tailed p=0.07), associated with significantly greater, improvements in the ratios of low-density lipoprotein to HDL-C (1.24 vs. 1.95, p = 0.003), and apolipoprotein B to apoA-I (0.46 vs. 0.58, p = 0.03) compared with placebo-treated patients. No improvements were detected in three independent vascular physiology assays of endothelial function. Thus, the relatively small changes in HDL-C achieved by the dose of niacin-ER used in our study are not associated with improved vascular function in patients with SCD with initially low levels of apoA-I or HDL-C.
PMCID: PMC4196719  PMID: 24035168
Sickle cell; niacin; high-density lipoprotein; endothelial function
8.  Sleep disturbance, depression and pain in adults with sickle cell disease 
BMC Psychiatry  2014;14:207.
Sleep disturbance and depression are commonly encountered in primary care. In sickle cell disease, depression is associated with pain, poor treatment compliance, and lower quality of life. The prevalence of sleep disturbance and its effect upon quality of life in adults with sickle cell disease is unknown. The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of sleep disturbance and if it is associated with pain and depression in sickle cell disease.
Three hundred twenty eight adults with sickle cell disease enrolled on the Bethesda Sickle Cell Cohort Study were assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and Beck Depression Inventory II screening measures as a cross-sectional survey. Scores greater than 5 (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) and 16 (Beck Depression Inventory II) defined sleep disturbance and depression, respectively. Clinical and laboratory parameters were also assessed.
The mean Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score was 8.4 (SD ± 4.2) indicating a 71.2% prevalence of sleep disturbance. The mean Beck Depression Inventory II score was 8.0 (SD ± 8.9). Sixty five (20.6%) participants had a score indicating depression, and half of these (10.0%) had thoughts of suicide. Both Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and Beck Depression Inventory II scores were significantly correlated (p < .001). The number of days with mild/moderate pain (p = .001) and a history of headaches (p = .005) were independently associated with depression by multivariate regression analysis. Patients with sleep disturbance were older (p = .002), had higher body mass index (p = .011), had more days of pain (p = .003) and more frequent severe acute painful events (emergency room visits and hospitalizations) during the previous 12 months (p < .001).
More than 70 percent of adults with sickle cell disease had sleep disturbance, while 21 percent showed evidence of clinical depression. Sleep disturbance and depression were correlated, and were most common among those with more frequent pain. Providers caring for adults with sickle cell disease and frequent pain should consider screening for these common co-morbidities. Additional study is needed to confirm these findings and to determine if treatments for pain, depression or sleep disturbances will improve quality of life measures in this patient population.
Trial registration identifier: NCT00011648.
PMCID: PMC4223647  PMID: 25047658
Sickle cell disease; Sleep disturbance; Depression; Chronic pain; Patient reported outcomes; Bethesda sickle cell cohort study
9.  Clinical correlates of acute pulmonary events in children and adolescents with 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.
PMCID: PMC3689858  PMID: 23560516
sickle cell disease; acute chest syndrome; vaso-occlusive crisis; asthma; pain
10.  Hemodynamic Predictors of Mortality in Adults with Sickle Cell Disease 
Background: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) in adults with sickle cell disease (SCD) is associated with early mortality, but no prior studies have evaluated quantitative relationships of mortality to physiological measures of pre- and postcapillary PH.
Objectives: To identify risk factors associated with mortality and to estimate the expected survival in a cohort of patients with SCD with PH documented by right heart catheterization.
Methods: Nine-year follow-up data (median, 4.7 yr) from the National Institutes of Health SCD PH screening study are reported. A total of 529 adults with SCD were screened by echocardiography between 2001 and 2010 with no exclusion criteria. Hemodynamic data were collected from 84 patients. PH was defined as mean pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) ≥ 25 mm Hg. Survival rates were estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method, and mortality risk factors were analyzed by the Cox proportional hazards regression.
Measurements and Main Results: Specific hemodynamic variables were independently related to mortality: mean PAP (hazard ratio [HR], 1.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05–2.45 per 10 mm Hg increase; P = 0.027), diastolic PAP (HR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.09–3.08 per 10 mm Hg increase; P = 0.022), diastolic PAP − pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (HR, 2.19; 95% CI, 1.23–3.89 per 10 mm Hg increase; P = 0.008), transpulmonary gradient (HR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.14–2.79 per 10 mm Hg increase; P = 0.011), and pulmonary vascular resistance (HR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.09–1.89 per Wood unit increase; P = 0.009) as risk factors for mortality.
Conclusions: Mortality in adults with SCD and PH is proportional to the physiological severity of precapillary PH, demonstrating its prognostic and clinical relevance despite anemia-induced high cardiac output and less severely elevated pulmonary vascular resistance.
PMCID: PMC3707372  PMID: 23348978
sickle cell; pulmonary hypertension; mortality; autopsy
11.  Impact of PCA Strategies on Pain Intensity and Functional Assessment Measures in Adults with Sickle Cell Disease during Hospitalized Vaso-Occlusive Episodes 
American journal of hematology  2012;87(10):E71-E74.
Clinical trials of sickle cell disease (SCD) pain treatment usually observe only small decrements in pain intensity during the course of hospitalization. Sub-optimal analgesic management and inadequate pain assessment methods are possible explanations for these findings. In a search for better methods for assessing inpatient SCD pain in adults, we examined several pain intensity and interference measures in both arms of a randomized controlled trial comparing two different opioid PCA therapies. Based upon longitudinal analysis of pain episodes, we found that scores from daily average Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) and several other measures, especially the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), were sensitive to change in daily improvements in pain intensity associated with resolution of vaso-occlusive pain. In this preliminary trial, the low demand, high basal infusion (LDHI) strategy demonstrated faster, larger improvements in various measures of pain than the high demand, low basal infusion (HDLI) strategy for opioid PCA dosing, however, verification in larger studies is required. The measures and statistical approaches used in this analysis may facilitate design, reduce sample size, and improve analyses of treatment response in future SCD clinical trials of vaso-occlusive episodes.
PMCID: PMC3533241  PMID: 22886853
sickle cell disease; pain; longitudinal models
12.  Clinical trial implementation and recruitment: Lessons learned from the early closure of a randomized clinical trial☆ 
Contemporary clinical trials  2011;33(2):291-297.
The NHLBI-sponsored Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Research Network (SCDCRN) conducted a multi-center, acute intervention randomized clinical trial of two methods of Patient Controlled Analgesia for acute pain. This trial was terminated early due to low enrollment. We analyzed the perceived barriers and recruitment difficulties as reported by the coordinators and principal investigators.
Participating sites completed a missed eligibility log of subjects admitted in pain crisis throughout the study and a survey at the end of the trial. The survey covered site-specific factors, policies, and procedures in study implementation, recruitment strategies, and eligibility factors. The New England Research Institutes (NERI) collected de-identified surveys from 31 respondents at 29 of 31 participating sites.
From December 2009 to June 2010, 1116 patient encounters for SCD and pain occurred at participating institutions: 38 subjects were enrolled (14 pediatric and 24 adults) and 34 completed the trial, below the projected 278 subjects. Fourteen sites enrolled subjects and seventeen did not. Recruitment barriers included insufficient staff, subject ineligibility or in too much pain to consent, competing protocols, and concerns regarding pain control. Recruitment methods were referrals from urgent care, SCD clinics and in house databases. No use of media or outside physicians was reported.
We identified multiple barriers to patient accrual including short duration of enrollment period, protocol design, complex dosing schedule, requirement for staff availability during week-end and after hours, multiple departments’ involvement, protocol acceptance, eligibility criteria, competing protocols, and limited staff. Each of these areas should be targeted for intervention in order to plan and conduct successful future clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3577351  PMID: 22155024
Recruitment; Clinical trial; Sickle cell disease; Minority; Pain; Protocol development
13.  Markers of severe vaso-occlusive painful episode frequency in children and adolescents with sickle cell anemia 
The Journal of Pediatrics  2011;160(2):286-290.
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).
Study design
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.
PMCID: PMC3258348  PMID: 21890147
Sickle cell anemia; vaso-occlusive crisis; pain
16.  Endothelin receptor antagonists for pulmonary hypertension in adult patients with sickle cell disease 
British journal of haematology  2009;147(5):737-743.
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.
PMCID: PMC3225273  PMID: 19775299
17.  A multicenter randomised controlled trial of hydroxyurea (hydroxycarbamide) in very young children with sickle cell anaemia 
Lancet  2011;377(9778):1663-1672.
Sickle cell anaemia (SCA) is associated with significant morbidity from acute complications and organ dysfunction beginning in the first year of life. In the first multicenter randomised double-blinded trial in very young children with SCA, the impact of hydroxyurea (hydroxycarbamide) therapy on organ dysfunction, clinical complications, and laboratory findings, and its toxicity, were examined.
Eligible subjects had HbSS or Sβ0thalassaemia, were age 9–18 months at randomisation, and were not selected for clinical severity. Subjects received liquid hydroxyurea, 20 mg/kg/day, or placebo for two years. Primary study endpoints were splenic function (qualitative uptake on 99Tc spleen scan) and renal function (glomerular filtration rate by 99mTc-DTPA clearance). Additional evaluations included: blood counts, HbF, chemistry profiles, spleen function biomarkers, urine osmolality, neurodevelopment, transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, growth, and mutagenicity. Study visits occurred every two to four weeks.
Ninety-six subjects received hydroxyurea and 97 placebo; 86% completed the study. Significant differences were not seen for the primary endpoints, but suggestive benefit was noted in quantitative measures of spleen function. Hydroxyurea significantly decreased pain and dactylitis with trends for decreased acute chest syndrome, hospitalisation and transfusion. Hydroxyurea increased haemoglobin and HbF and decreased WBC count. Toxicity was limited to mild-moderate neutropaenia.
Although hydroxyurea treatment did not reduce splenic and renal dysfunction assessed by primary endpoint measures, it resulted in major clinical benefit because of diminished acute complications, favorable haematologic results, and a lack of unexpected toxicities. Based on the safety and efficacy data from this trial, hydroxyurea can now be considered for all very young children with SCA.
PMCID: PMC3133619  PMID: 21571150
18.  Leg Ulcers in Sickle Cell Disease 
American journal of hematology  2010;85(10):831-833.
PMCID: PMC2953786  PMID: 20872960
19.  Association of G6PD202A,376G with lower haemoglobin concentration but not increased haemolysis in patients with sickle cell anaemia 
British journal of haematology  2010;150(2):218-225.
The genetic bases of the highly variable degrees of anaemia and haemolysis in persons with Hb SS are not fully known, but several studies have indicated that G6PD deficiency is not a factor. The G6PD202A and G6PD376G alleles and α-thalassaemia were determined by molecular genetic testing in 261 children and adolescents with Hb SS in a multicentre study. G6PD202A,376G (G6PD A-) was defined as hemizygosity for both alleles in males and homozygosity in females. Among the participants 41% were receiving hydroxycarbamide.
The prevalence of G6PD202A,376G was 13.6% in males and 3.3% in females with an overall prevalence of 8.7%. G6PD202A,376G was associated with a 10 g/l decrease in haemoglobin concentration (P=0.008) but not with increased haemolysis as measured by lactate dehydrogenase, bilirubin, aspartate-aminotransferase, reticulocyte count or a haemolytic component derived from these markers (P>0.09). Similar results were found within a sub-group of children who were not receiving hydroxycarbamide. By comparison, single and double α-globin deletions were associated with progressively higher haemoglobin concentrations (P=0.005 for trend), progressively lower values for haemolytic component (P=0.007), and increased severe pain episodes (P<0.001).
In conclusion, G6PD202A,376G may be associated with lower haemoglobin concentration in sickle cell anaemia by a mechanism other than increased haemolysis.
PMCID: PMC2906678  PMID: 20507315
sickle cell anaemia; G6PD; haemolysis; alpha-thalassaemia; haemoglobin concentration
20.  Angiogenic and Inflammatory Markers of Cardiopulmonary Changes in Children and Adolescents with Sickle Cell Disease 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7956.
Pulmonary hypertension and left ventricular diastolic dysfunction are complications of sickle cell disease. Pulmonary hypertension is associated with hemolysis and hypoxia, but other unidentified factors are likely involved in pathogenesis as well.
Design and Methods
Plasma concentrations of three angiogenic markers (fibroblast growth factor, platelet derived growth factor–BB [PDGF-BB], vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF]) and seven inflammatory markers implicated in pulmonary hypertension in other settings were determined by Bio-Plex suspension array in 237 children and adolescents with sickle cell disease at steady state and 43 controls. Tricuspid regurgitation velocity (which reflects systolic pulmonary artery pressure), mitral valve E/Edti ratio (which reflects left ventricular diastolic dysfunction), and a hemolytic component derived from four markers of hemolysis and hemoglobin oxygen saturation were also determined.
Plasma concentrations of interleukin-8, interleukin-10 and VEGF were elevated in the patients with sickle cell disease compared to controls (P≤0.003). By logistic regression, greater values for PDGF-BB (P = 0.009), interleukin-6 (P = 0.019) and the hemolytic component (P = 0.026) were independently associated with increased odds of elevated tricuspid regurgitation velocity while higher VEGF concentrations were associated with decreased odds (P = 0.005) among the patients with sickle cell disease. These findings, which are consistent with reports that PDGF-BB stimulates and VEGF inhibits vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation, did not apply to E/Etdi.
Circulating concentrations of angiogenic and pro-Inflammatory markers are altered in sickle cell disease children and adolescents with elevated tricuspid regurgitation velocity, a subgroup that may be at risk for developing worsening pulmonary hypertension. Further studies to understand the molecular changes in these children are indicated.
PMCID: PMC2776981  PMID: 19956689
21.  Prospective evaluation of haemoglobin oxygen saturation at rest and after exercise in paediatric sickle cell disease patients 
British journal of haematology  2009;147(3):352-359.
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.
PMCID: PMC2769929  PMID: 19694721
sickle cell disease; paediatric; oxygen saturation; six-minute walk; pulmonary hypertension

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