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Anemia. 2012;2012:582018. doi: 10.1155/2012/582018. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

Spatiotemporal dysfunction of the vascular permeability barrier in transgenic mice with sickle cell disease.

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Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Division of Hematology/Oncology/BMT, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is characterized by chronic intravascular hemolysis that generates excess cell-free hemoglobin in the blood circulation. Hemoglobin causes multiple endothelial dysfunctions including increased vascular permeability, impaired reactivity to vasoactive agonists, and increased adhesion of leukocytes to the endothelium. While the adhesive and vasomotor defects of SCD associated with cell-free hemoglobin are well defined, the vascular permeability phenotype remains poorly appreciated. We addressed this issue in two widely used and clinically relevant mouse models of SCD. We discovered that the endothelial barrier is normal in most organs in the young but deteriorates with aging particularly in the lung. Indeed, middle-aged sickle mice developed pulmonary edema revealing for the first time similarities in the chronic permeability phenotypes of the lung in mice and humans with SCD. Intravenous administration of lysed red blood cells into the circulation of sickle mice increased vascular permeability significantly in the lung without impacting permeability in other organs. Thus, increased vascular permeability is an endothelial dysfunction of SCD with the barrier in the lung likely the most vulnerable to acute inflammation.

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