Mechanisms of vasculopathy in sickle cell disease and thalassemia

Claudia R Morris
Hematology—the Education Program of the American Society of Hematology 2008, : 177-85
Many mechanisms contribute to the complex pathophysiology of sickle cell disease (SCD), with dysfunction of the vascular endothelium as a unifying theme. Specifically, hemolysis-associated low arginine and nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability, amplified by NO synthase uncoupling, elevated arginase activity, superoxide production, oxidative stress, accumulation of arginine analogs such as asymmetric dimethylarginine, ischemia-reperfusion injury, inflammation, apolipoprotein A-1 depletion, and a hypercoagulable state are significant mechanisms contributing to endothelial dysfunction. Genetic polymorphisms also influence disease severity. Clearly the variable spectrum of disease is the consequence of multiple events and genetic susceptibility that go beyond the occurrence of a single amino acid substitution in the beta globin chain of hemoglobin. Recent studies begin to demonstrate overlap among these seemingly unrelated processes. Impaired NO bioavailability represents the central feature of endothelial dysfunction, and is a common denominator in the pathogenesis of vasculopathy in SCD. The consequences of decreased NO bioavailability include endothelial cell activation, upregulation of the potent vasoconstrictor endothelin-1, vasoconstriction, platelet activation, increased tissue factor, and activation of coagulation, all of which ultimately translate into the clinical manifestations of SCD. Evidence supporting vasculopathy subphenotypes in SCD, including pulmonary hypertension, priapism, cutaneous leg ulceration, and stroke, will be reviewed and relevance to other hemolytic disorders including the thalassemia syndromes will be considered.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"