Sickle cell anemia is a unique disease dominated by hemolytic anemia and vaso-occlusive events. The latter trigger a version of ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) pathobiology that is singular in its origin, cyclicity, complexity, instability, perpetuity, and breadth of clinical consequences. Specific clinical features are probably attributable to local I/R injury (e.g., stroke syndromes) or remote organ injury (e.g., acute chest syndrome) or the systematization of inflammation (e.g., multifocal arteriopathy). Indeed, by fashioning an underlying template of endothelial dysfunction and vulnerability, the robust inflammatory systematization no doubt contributes to all sickle pathology. In this Review, we highlight I/R–targeting therapeutics shown to improve microvascular blood flow in sickle transgenic mice undergoing I/R, and we suggest how such insights might be translated into human therapeutic strategies.
Robert P. Hebbel, John D. Belcher, Gregory M. Vercellotti