Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a hereditary hemoglobinopathy characterized by painful vaso-occlusive crises (VOC) and chronic hemolysis. The mononuclear phagocyte system is pivotal to SCD pathophysiology, but the mechanisms governing monocyte/macrophage differentiation remain unknown. This study examined the influence of hemolysis on circulating monocyte trajectories in SCD. We discovered that hemolysis stimulated CSF-1 production, partly by endothelial cells via Nrf2, promoting classical monocyte (CMo) differentiation into blood patrolling monocytes (PMo) in SCD mice. However, hemolysis also upregulated CCL-2 through IFN-I, inducing CMo transmigration and differentiation into tissue monocyte–derived macrophages. Blocking CMo transmigration by anti–P selectin antibody in SCD mice increased circulating PMo, corroborating that CMo-to–tissue macrophage differentiation occurs at the expense of CMo-to–blood PMo differentiation. We observed a positive correlation between plasma CSF-1/CCL-2 ratios and blood PMo levels in patients with SCD, underscoring the clinical significance of these two opposing factors in monocyte differentiation. Combined treatment with CSF-1 and anti–P selectin antibody more effectively increased PMo numbers and reduced stasis compared with single-agent therapies in SCD mice. Altogether, these data indicate that monocyte fates are regulated by the balance between two heme pathways, Nrf2/CSF-1 and IFN-I/CCL-2, and suggest that the CSF-1/CCL-2 ratio may present a diagnostic and therapeutic target in SCD.
Yunfeng Liu, Shan Su, Sarah Shayo, Weili Bao, Mouli Pal, Kai Dou, Patricia A. Shi, Banu Aygun, Sally Campbell-Lee, Cheryl A. Lobo, Avital Mendelson, Xiuli An, Deepa Manwani, Hui Zhong, Karina Yazdanbakhsh