Sickle cell disease (SCD), caused by a mutation in the β-globin gene HBB, is widely distributed in malaria endemic regions. Cardiopulmonary complications are major causes of morbidity and mortality. Hemoglobin SS (Hb SS) represents a large proportion of SCD in the Americas, United Kingdom, and certain regions of Africa while higher proportions of hemoglobin SC are observed in Burkina Faso and hemoglobin Sβ-thalassemia in Greece and India. Coinheritance of α-thalassemia and persistence of hemoglobin F production are observed in highest frequency in certain regions of India and the Middle East. As confirmed in the PUSH and Walk-PHaSST studies, Hb SS, absence of co-inheriting alpha-thalassemia, and low hemoglobin F levels tend to be associated with more hemolysis, lower hemoglobin oxygen saturations, greater proportions of elevated tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity and brain natriuretic peptide, and increased left ventricular mass index. Identification of additional genetic modifiers will improve prediction of cardiopulmonary complications in SCD.
Sickle Cell Disease; Echocardiogram; Pulmonary Function Test; Hemoglobin F; Alpha thalassemia
Haemolytic anaemia is variable among patients with sickle cell anaemia and can be estimated by reticulocyte count, lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase and bilirubin levels. Using principal component analysis of these measurements we computed a haemolytic score that we used as a subphenotype in a genome-wide association study. We identified in one cohort and replicated in two additional cohorts the association of a single nucleotide polymorphism in NPRL3 (rs7203560; chr16p13·3) (P = 6·04 × 10−07). This association was validated by targeted genotyping in a fourth independent cohort. The HBA1/HBA2 regulatory elements, hypersensitive sites (HS)-33, HS-40 and HS-48 are located in introns of NPRL3. Rs7203560 was in perfect linkage disequilibrium (LD) with rs9926112 (r2 = 1) and in strong LD with rs7197554 (r2 = 0·75) and rs13336641 (r2 = 0·77); the latter is located between HS-33 and HS-40 sites and next to a CTCF binding site. The minor allele for rs7203560 was associated with the −∝3·7thalassaemia gene deletion. When adjusting for HbF and ∝ thalassaemia, the association of NPRL3 with the haemolytic score was significant (P = 0·00375) and remained significant when examining only cases without gene deletion∝ thalassaemia (P = 0·02463). Perhaps by independently down-regulating expression of the HBA1/HBA2 genes, variants of the HBA1/HBA2 gene regulatory loci, tagged by rs7203560, reduce haemolysis in sickle cell anaemia.
haemolysis; sickle cell anaemia; haemolytic anaemia; genetic analysis; thalassaemia
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
Neurocognitive impairment occurs in children and adults with sickle cell anemia, but little is known about neurodevelopment in very young children. We examined the neurodevelopmental status of infants participating in the Pediatric Hydroxyurea Phase III Clinical Trial (Baby Hug) to determine relationships with age, cerebral blood flow velocity, and hemoglobin concentration.
Standardized measures of infant neurodevelopment were administered to 193 infants with hemoglobin SS or hemoglobin S-β0 thalassemia between 7 and 18 months of age at the time of their baseline evaluation. Associations between neurodevelopmental scores and age, family income, parent education, hemoglobin concentration, and transcranial Doppler velocity were examined.
Mean functioning on the baseline neurodevelopment scales was in the average range. There were no mental development scores <70 (impaired); 22 children had scores in the clinically significant range, 11 with impaired psychomotor scores and 11 with problematic behavior rating scores. Significantly poorer performance was observed with older age at baseline. Behavior rating scores were an average of 2.82 percentile points lower per month of age, with similar patterns observed with parent report using adaptive behavior scales. Parent-reported functional abilities and hemoglobin were negatively associated with higher transcranial Doppler velocities.
Whereas overall functioning was in the normal range, behavioral and adaptive function was poorer with older age, even in this very young group of children. Explanatory mechanisms for this association between poorer developmental function and older age need to be identified.
sickle cell disease; cognitive development; transcranial Doppler; Bayley Scales; toddlers
Children with sickle cell anemia (SCA) often develop hyposthenuria and renal hyperfiltration at an early age, possibly contributing to the glomerular injury and renal insufficiency commonly seen later in life. The Phase III randomized double-blinded Clinical Trial of Hydroxyurea in Infants with SCA (BABY HUG) tested the hypothesis that hydroxyurea can prevent kidney dysfunction by reducing hyperfiltration.
193 infants with SCA (mean age 13.8 months) received hydroxyurea 20 mg/kg/day or placebo for 24 months. 99mTc diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) clearance, serum creatinine, serum cystatin C, urinalysis, serum and urine osmolality after parent-supervised fluid deprivation, and renal ultrasonography were obtained at baseline and at exit to measure treatment effects on renal function.
At exit children treated with hydroxyurea had significantly higher urine osmolality (mean 495 mOsm/kg H2O compared to 452 in the placebo group, p=0.007) and a larger percentage of subjects taking hydroxyurea achieved urine osmolality >500 mOsm/kg H2O. Moreover, children treated with hydroxyurea had smaller renal volumes (p=0.007). DTPA-derived glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was not significantly different between the two treatment groups, but was significantly higher than published norms. GFR estimated by the Chronic Kidney Disease in Children Schwartz formula was the best non-invasive method to estimate GFR in these children, as it was the closest to the DTPA-derived GFR.
Treatment with hydroxyurea for 24 months did not influence GFR in young children with SCA. However, hydroxyurea was associated with better urine concentrating ability and less renal enlargement, suggesting some benefit to renal function.
kidney function; glomerular filtration rate; urine osmolality; hydroxyurea
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
Acute vaso-occlusive painful episodes associated with sickle cell disease (SCD) are frequently treated with morphine. Many SCD individuals require relatively higher doses of morphine to achieve optimal analgesia. We studied pharmacokinetics of morphine in SCD to explore if altered disposition could be a factor for increased requirement of morphine in this population. The study subjects were in steady state of health to avoid the effect of hemodynamic changes associated with vaso-occlusion on morphine disposition. The plasma concentrations of morphine and its major metabolites were measured at timed intervals in 21 SCD subjects after they received a single 0.1 mg/ Kg infusion of morphine sulfate. USCPACK software was used to fit candidate pharmacokinetic models. Non-compartmental pharmacokinetic parameters for morphine were calculated. Morphine clearance was 2.4 – 3.6 L/h, half-life was 0.3 – 0.7 hours, AUC0−∞ was 27.7 – 42.5 ng*h/mL, and volume of distribution was 0.96 – 3.38 L/kg. Clearance of morphine in the study population was 3 – 10 folds higher than published estimates in the non-SCD population, with correspondingly lower AUC and half-life. Volume of distribution was similar. This observation suggests that due to increased clearance SCD individuals may require higher dose and frequency of morphine to achieve comparable plasma levels.
Sickle cell disease; morphine; pharmacokinetics; clearance; pain management
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.
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
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.
sickle cell anaemia; G6PD; haemolysis; alpha-thalassaemia; haemoglobin concentration
Evidence of the laboratory benefits of hydroxyurea and its clinical efficacy in reducing acute vaso-occlusive events in adults and children with sickle cell anemia has accumulated for more than 15 years. A definitive clinical trial showing that hydroxyurea can also prevent organ damage might support widespread use of the drug at an early age. BABY HUG is a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial to test whether treating young children ages 9 to 17 months at entry with a liquid preparation of hydroxyurea (20 mg/kg/day for two years) can decrease organ damage in the kidneys and spleen by at least 50%. Creation of BABY HUG entailed unique challenges and opportunities. Although protection of brain function might be considered a more compelling endpoint, preservation of spleen and renal function has clinical relevance, and significant treatment effects might be discernable within the mandated sample size of two hundred. Concerns about unanticipated severe toxicity and burdensome testing and monitoring requirements were addressed in part by an internal Feasibility and Safety Pilot Study, the successful completion of which was required prior to enrolling a larger number of children on the protocol. Concerns over recruitment of potentially vulnerable subjects were allayed by inclusion of a research subject advocate, or ombudsman. Finally, maintenance of blinding of research personnel was aided by inclusion of an unblinded primary endpoint person, charged with transmitting endpoint data and monitoring blood work locally for toxicity. (ClinicalTrials.gov number,NCT00006400)
hydroxyurea; clinical trial; infants; sickle cell
A urine concentrating defect is quite common in sickle cell anemia, has its onset in early childhood, and may be reversible with transfusion. The Pediatric Hydroxyurea Phase III Clinical Trial (BABY HUG) is a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess efficacy of hydroxyurea in preventing organ damage in young children with sickle cell anemia.
Enrolled infants were subjected to parent-supervised fluid deprivation and urine and serum osmolality were determined.
Of 185 infants age 7.5 – 17.9 months (mean 13.0+/-2.7) and fluid-deprived 7.4+/-2.4 hours (range 4-13), 178 had concurrent determinations of urine and serum osmolality. Mean serum osmolality was 286+/-6 mOsm/kg H2O (range 275-312) and independent of age, height, weight, or duration of fluid deprivation. Urine osmolality (mean 407+/-151, range 58-794 mOsm/ kg H2O) was greater than serum (p<0.0001) and correlated with duration of fluid deprivation (p=0.001). Of 142 (77.2%) who concentrated urine, 54 (29.4%) had urine osmolality > 500 mOsm/kg H2O. Urine osmolality correlated with 99mTc-DTPA clearance (p=0.02) and serum urea nitrogen (p<0.0001), but not with serum osmolality, gender, age, height, weight or serum creatinine. Infants able to produce urine with osmolality > 500 mOsm/kg H2O had higher mean fetal hemoglobin concentrations than did those who could not (p=0.014).
Even with often limited fluid deprivation, 77.2 percent of young infants with sickle cell anemia were able to concentrate urine. Preservation of concentrating ability was associated with higher fetal hemoglobin concentration. Assessment will be repeated after two years of hydroxyurea or placebo treatment. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00006400.)
nephropathy; urine osmolality; isosthenuria; hyposthenuria
Subject retention and adherence are essential to maintain the power and validity of the Pediatric Hydroxyurea Phase III Clinical Trial (BABY HUG). We designed a study to assess adherence with study medication administration and study visits and to evaluate socioeconomic factors (SES) that may influence these measurements of adherence. These data are important for assessing impact of adherence on BABY HUG trial outcome and defining impact of SES on adherence.
Each subject’s median study medication (MedAd) and mean visit adherence (VAd) were evaluated. We examined associations of adherence with SES of participating families.
MedAd data were available on 153 of the 191 subjects who started randomized study medication. MedAd was 101.7% of volume prescribed, with 88.9% of subjects taking at least 80% of doses. VAd data were available on 185 of the 191 subjects who started randomized study medication. VAd was 97.3%, with 82.2 % of subjects having no missed visits. During dose titration, subjects had on average 12.9% higher medication adherence than subjects who were on a stable dose and had less frequent study visits. MedAd and VAd were not significantly associated with SES.
Subjects in the BABY HUG trial have had excellent adherence. SES was not associated with adherence, suggesting that SES should not be used as a criterion for enrolment in clinical trials. Additional efforts are needed to maintain medication adherence, particularly when the interval between scheduled visits increases. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00006400)
non-adherence; anti-sickling agents; clinical trial; study retention
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.
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
Lemierre's syndrome is an extremely rare and almost universally fatal disease characterized as thrombophlebitis of the internal jugular venous system with subsequent metastatic infection. Fusobacterium necrophorum is the most common organism implicated in causation of Lemierre's syndrome. Group A Streptococcus has mainly been observed as a polymicrobial organism in the syndrome. We report a rare finding of a rare disease where Group A Streptococcus was the sole organism triggering Lemierre's syndrome. To our knowledge, this is only the third recorded patient with such an occurrence.
We describe a 9-year-old African American boy, who presented with otitis media and mastoiditis that culminated in Lemierre's syndrome. Isolates bore only Group A Streptococcus. The patient was appropriately treated and responded with full recovery from the syndrome.
Since Lemierre's syndrome is classically detected by clinical diagnosis, these findings should prompt clinicians to consider Group A Streptococcus as an alternative catalyst. It should be pondered that patients who present with typical Group A streptococcal infections have the possibility for developing Lemierre's syndrome. Though this complication appears to be rare, early diagnosis and prompt intervention have proven critical in survival outcome. Indeed, what would seem to be a routine case of strep throat or otitis media easily treated with antibiotics could end up being an unalterable progression to death unless Lemierre's syndrome is immediately diagnosed and treated.
Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular volume values appear to be lower among black than among white children. Blood hemoglobin concentration and red cell mean corpuscular volume were measured in 4,074 black boys and girls aged 1 through 20 years who lived near sea level. This is the largest hematologic survey of healthy American black children and adolescents to date. Children with sickle cell disease and elevated hemoglobin F were excluded from the study, but children with the traits for hemoglobin S, hemoglobin C, thalassemia, and iron deficiency were not. The 3rd and 97th percentile values reported here are close to the 95 percent confidence limits, and are adjusted for age and sex.
A 12-year-old black male patient with glioblastoma multiforme was treated with intraoperative radiotherapy followed by conventional external beam radiation and chemotherapy. The authors' clinical experience with these therapeutic measures is discussed.