Sickle red cell-endothelium interactions

Microcirculation. 2009 Jan;16(1):97-111. doi: 10.1080/10739680802279394.


Periodic recurrence of painful vaso-occlusive crisis is the defining feature of sickle cell disease. Among multiple pathologies associated with this disease, sickle red cell-endothelium interaction has been implicated as a potential initiating mechanism in vaso-occlusive events. This review focuses on various interrelated mechanisms involved in human sickle red cell adhesion. We discuss in vitro and microcirculatory findings on sickle red cell adhesion, its potential role in vaso-occlusion, and the current understanding of receptor-ligand interactions involved in this pathological phenomenon. In addition, we discuss the contribution of other cellular interactions (leukocytes recruitment and leukocyte-red cell interaction) to vaso-occlusion, as observed in transgenic sickle mouse models. Emphasis is given to recently discovered adhesion molecules that play a predominant role in mediating human sickle red cell adhesion. Finally, we analyze various therapeutic approaches for inhibiting sickle red cell adhesion by targeting adhesion molecules and also consider therapeutic strategies that target stimuli involved in endothelial activation and initiation of adhesion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / genetics
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / metabolism*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / pathology
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / genetics
  • Cell Communication*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Erythrocytes, Abnormal / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes, Abnormal / pathology
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic