The Role of Cytokines in Sickle Cell Disease

Ann Hematol. 2000 Aug;79(8):407-13. doi: 10.1007/s002770000173.


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is characterized by chronic hemolysis, frequent infections, and recurrent occlusions of microcirculation, which cause painful crises and result in chronic organ damage and failure. Occlusions of the microcirculation and infections are important factors that stimulate the production of cytokines and acute-phase proteins. Cytokines seem to be involved with several possible mechanisms in the pathogenesis of vasoocclusive phenomena in SCD: vascular endothelial activation, induction of red-cell adhesiveness to vascular endothelium, induction of neutrophil adhesiveness to endothelium, development of vascular intimal hyperplasia, platelet activation, endothelin-1 production, and dysregulation of endothelial apoptosis. Cytokines are also thought to be involved in the regulation of hemopoiesis, the inhibition of immune functions, and the development of growth deficits. Investigation of cytokines in SCD patients will elucidate the pathogenesis of the disease and its complications and may help in assessing disease severity and prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Sickle Cell Trait / etiology
  • Sickle Cell Trait / physiopathology*


  • Cytokines