Sickle trait in African-American hemodialysis patients and higher erythropoiesis-stimulating agent dose

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Apr;25(4):819-26. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013060575. Epub 2014 Jan 23.


African Americans require higher doses of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) during dialysis to manage anemia, but the influence of sickle cell trait and other hemoglobinopathy traits on anemia in dialysis patients has not been adequately evaluated. We performed a cross-sectional study of a large cohort of adult African-American hemodialysis patients in the United States to determine the prevalence of hemoglobinopathy traits and quantify their influence on ESA dosing. Laboratory and clinical data were obtained over 6 months in 2011. Among 5319 African-American patients, 542 (10.2%) patients had sickle cell trait, and 129 (2.4%) patients had hemoglobin C trait; no other hemoglobinopathy traits were present. Sickle cell trait was more common in this cohort than the general African-American population (10.2% versus 6.5%-8.7%, respectively, P<0.05). Among 5002 patients (10.3% sickle cell trait and 2.4% hemoglobin C trait) receiving ESAs, demographic and clinical variables were similar across groups, with achieved hemoglobin levels being nearly identical. Patients with hemoglobinopathy traits received higher median doses of ESA than patients with normal hemoglobin (4737.4 versus 4364.1 units/treatment, respectively, P=0.02). In multivariable analyses, hemoglobinopathy traits associated with 13.2% more ESA per treatment (P=0.001). Within subgroups, sickle cell trait patients received 13.2% (P=0.003) higher dose and hemoglobin C trait patients exhibited a similar difference (12.9%, P=0.12). Sensitivity analyses using weight-based dosing definitions and separate logistic regression models showed comparable associations. Our findings suggest that the presence of sickle cell trait and hemoglobin C trait may explain, at least in part, prior observations of greater ESA doses administered to African-American dialysis patients relative to Caucasian patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / genetics*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hematinics / administration & dosage
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Sickle Cell Trait / blood
  • Sickle Cell Trait / ethnology*


  • Hematinics