Exercise capacity and haemodynamics in patients with sickle cell disease with pulmonary hypertension treated with bosentan: results of the ASSET studies


Dr Robyn J. Barst, Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. E-mail: robyn.barst@gmail.com


Doppler-defined pulmonary hypertension (PH) in sickle cell disease (SCD) is associated with 40% mortality at 40 months. To assess the effect of bosentan in SCD-PH, two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 16-week studies were initiated. Safety concerns are particularly relevant in SCD due to comorbid conditions. ASSET-1 and -2 enrolled patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and pulmonary venous hypertension (PH), respectively. Haemodynamics and 6-min walk distance (6MWD) were obtained at baseline and week 16. The studies were terminated due to slow site initiation and patient enrolment (= 26). Bosentan appeared to be well tolerated. Although sample sizes were limited, in ASSET-1 at baseline, 6MWD correlated with cardiac output (CO; P = 0·006) with non-significant inverse correlations between 6MWD and pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR; P = 0·07) and between 6MWD and right atrial pressure (P = 0·08). In ASSET-2 at baseline, there was a non-significant correlation between 6MWD and CO (P = 0·06). Due to limited sample sizes, efficacy endpoints were not analysed. However, in both studies, non-significant increases in CO were observed with bosentan compared to placebo. Similarly, non-significant decreases in PVR were observed with bosentan. Limited data in SCD-PH suggest that a low 6MWD predicts a low CO. Standard-dose bosentan appears to be well tolerated. Further investigation is warranted. Clinicaltrials.gov registration numbers NCT00310830, NCT00313196, NCT00360087.