Pathophysiology and treatment of stroke in sickle-cell disease: present and future

Lancet Neurol. 2006 Jun;5(6):501-12. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(06)70469-0.


Sickle-cell anaemia is the most common cause of stroke in children, and stroke is one of the most devastating complications of sickle-cell disease. Overt strokes are typically due to large-artery vasculopathy affecting the intracranial internal carotid arteries and proximal middle cerebral arteries, whereas silent strokes typically occur in the territory of penetrating arteries. The sickled red blood cell can contribute to the pathogenesis of stroke via abnormal adherence to the vascular endothelium and by haemolysis, which results in endothelial cell activation, a hypercoaguable state, and alterations in vasomotor tone. Red-blood-cell transfusion, the most common preventive measure for stroke in sickle-cell disease, is associated with iron overload in chronic disease. Therefore, interventions directed towards the potential mechanisms that promote vasculopathy and occlusion in sickle-cell anaemia should be investigated. Here we review the epidemiology, clinical spectrum, and pathophysiology of stroke in sickle-cell disease to identify potential therapeutic targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / genetics
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / pathology
  • Cerebral Infarction / etiology
  • Coronary Angiography / methods
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Models, Biological
  • Stroke / etiology*
  • Stroke / pathology
  • Stroke / therapy