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Am J Hematol. 2011 Feb;86(2):220-3. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21928.

Severe sickle cell anemia is associated with increased plasma levels of TNF-R1 and VCAM-1.

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Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Sickle cell anemia (SCA, HBB glu6val) is characterized by multiple complications and a high degree of phenotypic variability: some subjects have only sporadic pain crises and few acute hospitalizations, while others experience multiple serious complications, high levels of morbidity, and accelerated mortality [1]. The tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) signaling pathway plays important roles in inflammation and the immune response; variation in this pathway might be expected to modify the overall severity of SCA through the pathway's effects on the vascular endothelium [2,3]. We examined plasma biomarkers of TNF-α activity and endothelial cell activation for associations with SCA severity in 24 adults (12 mild, 12 severe). Two biomarkers, tumor necrosis factor-α receptor-1 (TNF-R1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) were significantly higher in subjects with severe SCA. Along with these biomarker differences, we also examined data from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using SCA severity as a disease phenotype, and found evidence of genetic association between disease severity and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in VCAM1, which codes for VCAM-1, and several SNPs in ARFGEF2, a gene involved in TNF-R1 release [4].

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