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Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2008 May;78(3):139-47. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831.78.3.139.

Patients with sickle cell disease have reduced blood antioxidant protection.

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Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University, London, United Kingdom.


In previous studies, we found that homozygous sickle cell (HbSS) patients, compared with their healthy (HbAA) counterparts, had reduced levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids, in red cells, platelets, and mononuclear cells. These differences were not due to lower intake of the two fatty acids. We have investigated whether reduced antioxidant status in the patients could help explain the observed phenomenon. Blood specimens previously obtained for fatty acid study from Nigerian (26 HbSS and 30 HbAA) and British (30 HbSS, 9 sickle cell-hemoglobin C/HbSC, and 15 HbAA) subjects were analyzed for antioxidant status. The Nigerian HbSS patients compared with the controls had lower plasma retinol, alpha-tocopherol, and beta-carotene concentrations (p < 0.005) and reduced activity of red cell Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn-SOD) (p < 0.05). Similarly, the British HbSS group had reduced concentrations of plasma alpha-tocopherol (p < 0.005), and activities of red cell Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (p < 0.05) and Se-glutathione peroxidase (Se-GPx) (p < 0.005) than the controls. In addition, the British patients in comparison with those who had HbSC, a mild form of the disease, had lower alpha-tocopherol than that of the HbAA controls (p < 0.005). In the British sickle cell patients, there was a positive correlation between red cell ethanolamine phosphoglyceride (EPG) DHA and Cu/Zn-SOD activity (r = 0.700, p < 0.05), choline phosphoglyceride (CPG) DHA and Se-GPx activity (r = 0.605, p < 0.05), and CPG EPA and Se-GPx activity (r = 0.558, p > 0.05). Similarly, the percent DHA in red cell EPG was positively related with the activity of Se-GPx in the patients with HbSC (r = 0.674, p < 0.05). These findings suggest that the lower levels of membrane EPA and DHA in blood cells of the HbSS patients could be due to peroxidation resulting from a compromised antioxidant competence.

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