Eur J Clin Invest 2012; 42 (1): 27–33
Background and aim The primary symptoms of sickle cell disease (SCD) arise from vaso-occlusive crises. The pathogenesis of these crises is complex phenomenon where endothelial activation and damage has a major role. Chronic inflammation also plays an important role in the pathophysiology of SCD. We aimed to investigate endothelial activation in Caucasian Greek patients with SCD by means of measuring adhesion molecules and markers of inflammation.
Subjects and methods Twenty-eight patients with SCD aged 5–63 years were included in the study. Most of the patients (23/28) were double heterozygotes for sickle cell/beta-thalassaemia, while five patients (5/28) were sickle cell homozygotes. Patients were treated with one/or more of hydroxyurea, therapeutic phlebotomies, blood transfusion or splenectomy. Twenty apparently healthy individuals matched for age and sex formed the control group. Measurements of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, (sICAM-1), soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), P-selectin, E-selectin, soluble thrombomodulin (sTM) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels were performed using immunoassays in both patients and healthy individuals.
Results We found that all endothelial adhesion molecules and hs-CRP were significantly increased (P < 0·001) in patients with SCD compared with controls, while sTM levels did not differ significantly (P > 0·05) and this increase was not influenced by the treatment.
Conclusion Our findings demonstrate the high degree of endothelial activation and damage seen in sickle cell patients even in steady-state condition, as well as the important chronic inflammation underlying the pathophysiology of this widespread disease.