Sustained long-term hematologic efficacy of hydroxyurea at maximum tolerated dose in children with sickle cell disease

Blood. 2004 Mar 15;103(6):2039-45. doi: 10.1182/blood-2003-07-2475. Epub 2003 Nov 20.


Hydroxyurea improves hematologic parameters for children with sickle cell disease (SCD), but its long-term efficacy at maximum tolerated dose (MTD) has not been determined. Between 1995 and 2002, hydroxyurea therapy was initiated for 122 pediatric patients with SCD including 106 with homozygous sickle cell anemia (HbSS), 7 with sickle hemoglobin C (HbSC), 7 with sickle/beta-thalassemia (HbS/ beta-thalassemia [6 HbS/beta0, 1 HbS/beta+]), and 2 with sickle hemoglobin OArab (HbS/OArab). Median age at initiation of therapy was 11.1 years. Hydroxyurea was escalated to MTD, with an average dose of 25.4 +/- 5.4 mg/kg per day; the average duration of hydroxyurea therapy has been 45 +/- 24 months (range, 6-101 months). Hydroxyurea was discontinued for 15 (12%) children with poor compliance. Mild transient neutropenia occurred, but no hepatic or renal toxicity was noted. Hydroxyurea therapy led to significant increases in hemoglobin level, mean corpuscular volume, and fetal hemoglobin (HbF) level, whereas significant decreases occurred in reticulocyte, white blood cell, and platelet counts and serum bilirubin levels. Children with variant SCD genotypes also had hematologic responses to hydroxyurea. HbF induction has been sustained for up to 8 years without adverse effects on growth or increased numbers of acquired DNA mutations. Long-term hydroxyurea therapy at MTD is well tolerated by pediatric patients with SCD and has sustained hematologic efficacy with apparent long-term safety.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / genetics
  • Antisickling Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antisickling Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Hemoglobin
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea / administration & dosage*
  • Hydroxyurea / adverse effects
  • Infant
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antisickling Agents
  • Fetal Hemoglobin
  • Hydroxyurea