Characterization of Hematopoiesis in Sickle Cell Disease by Prospective Isolation of Stem and Progenitor Cells

Seda S. Tolu, Kai Wang, Zi Yan, Shouping Zhang, Karl Roberts, Andrew S. Crouch, Gracy Sebastian, Mark Chaitowitz, Eric D. Fornari, Evan M. Schwechter, Joan Uehlinger, Deepa Manwani, Caterina P. Minniti, Eric E. Bouhassira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The consequences of sickle cell disease (SCD) include ongoing hematopoietic stress, hemolysis, vascular damage, and effect of chronic therapies, such as blood transfusions and hydroxyurea, on hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) have been poorly characterized. We have quantified the frequencies of nine HSPC populations by flow cytometry in the peripheral blood of pediatric and adult patients, stratified by treatment and control cohorts. We observed broad differences between SCD patients and healthy controls. SCD is associated with 10 to 20-fold increase in CD34dim cells, a two to five-fold increase in CD34bright cells, a depletion in Megakaryocyte-Erythroid Progenitors, and an increase in hematopoietic stem cells, when compared to controls. SCD is also associated with abnormal expression of CD235a as well as high levels CD49f antigen expression. These findings were present to varying degrees in all patients with SCD, including those on chronic therapy and those who were therapy naive. HU treatment appeared to normalize many of these parameters. Chronic stress erythropoiesis and inflammation incited by SCD and HU therapy have long been suspected of causing premature aging of the hematopoietic system, and potentially increasing the risk of hematological malignancies. An important finding of this study was that the observed concentration of CD34bright cells and of all the HSPCs decreased logarithmically with time of treatment with HU. This correlation was independent of age and specific to HU treatment. Although the number of circulating HSPCs is influenced by many parameters, our findings suggest that HU treatment may decrease premature aging and hematologic malignancy risk compared to the other therapeutic modalities in SCD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2156
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 24 2020


  • hematopoietic stem cells
  • hydroxyurea
  • sickle cell disease
  • transfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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