The pathophysiology of pulmonary hypertension (PHT) in sickle cell disease (SCD) is probably multifactorial. Soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFLT-1) is a member of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) family. By adhering to and inhibiting VEGF and placenta growth factor, it induces endothelial dysfunction. We sought to evaluate the association of sFLT-1 with clinical complications of SCD. We confirmed that sFLT-1 was significantly elevated in SCD patients compared to healthy, race-matched control subjects. The level of sFLT-1 was significantly higher in patients with PHT, but no association was observed between sFLT-1 and the frequency of acute pain episodes or history of acute chest syndrome. sFLT-1 was correlated with various measures of haemolysis, erythropoietin and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1. By inducing endothelial dysfunction, sFLT-1 may contribute to the pathogenesis of SCD-associated PHT, although this effect does not appear to be independent of haemolysis.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.