Cytokines in sickle cell disease

Anil Pathare*, Salam Al Kindi, Shahina Daar, David Dennison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Sickle red cells express adhesion molecules including integrin α4β1, CD36, band 3 protein, sulfated glycolipid, Lutheran protein, phosphatidylserine and integrin-associated protein. The proadhesive sickle cells may bind to endothelial cell P-selectin, E-selectin, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), CD36 and integrins leading to its activation. Monocytes also activate endothelium by releasing proinflammatory cytokines like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin 1β (IL-1β). Sickle monocytes also express increased surface CD11b and cytoplasmic cytokines TNFα and IL-1β indicating activated state. Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) are also activated with reduced L-selectin expression, enhanced CD64 expression and elevated levels of sL-selectin, sCD16 and elastase resulting in increased adhesiveness to the endothelium. Platelets are also activated and secrete thrombospondin (TSP) and cytokine IL-1. They also form platelet- monocytes aggregates causing endothelial cell P-selectin expression. Endothelial cell activation by these multiple mechanisms leads to a loss of vascular integrity, expression of leukocyte adhesion molecules, change in the surface phenotype from antithrombotic to prothrombotic, excessive cytokine production and upregulation of HLA molecules. Furthermore, contraction of these activated endothelial cells leads to exposure of extracellular matrix proteins, such as TSP, laminin, and fibronectin and their participation in adhesive interactions with bridging molecules from the plasma such as von Willebrand factor (vWf) released from endothelial cells, ultimately culminating in vasoocclusion and local tissue ischemia, the pathognomonic basis of vasoocclusive crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-337
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


  • Cytokines
  • Polmorphonuclear leukocytes
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Vasoocclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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