Hypercoagulability in sickle cell disease: a curious paradox

Am J Med. 2003 Dec 15;115(9):721-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2003.07.011.


There is evidence of activation of both blood coagulation and platelets in sickle cell disease. For example, plasma samples obtained in the steady state and during painful crisis demonstrate high levels of thrombin generation, depletion of anticoagulant proteins, and abnormal activation of the fibrinolytic system. Similarly, exposure of surface markers such as CD62P and CD40L, along with increased circulating levels of thrombospondin, signal platelet activation. In addition to its effects on the cleavage of fibrinogen and its ability to activate platelets, the increase in circulating thrombin levels, with its wide-ranging effects on endothelial cells and blood vessels, may be important in the pathophysiology of sickle cell disease. Therefore, treatments that could decrease thrombin generation or platelet activation may be beneficial in both the treatment of sickle cell disease and the prevention of complications that characterize this genetic disorder. This review discusses hypercoagulability in the various forms of sickle cell disease, including homozygous sickle cell anemia, hemoglobin SC disease, hemoglobin SD disease, and sickle cell-beta-thalassemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / pathology
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / physiopathology*
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Blood Coagulation / drug effects
  • Blood Coagulation / physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Necrosis
  • Platelet Activation / drug effects
  • Platelet Activation / physiology
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Thrombophilia / blood*
  • Thrombophilia / pathology
  • Thrombophilia / physiopathology*
  • Thromboplastin / drug effects
  • Thromboplastin / physiology
  • Thrombosis / blood
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy
  • Thrombosis / physiopathology


  • Anticoagulants
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Thromboplastin