Plerixafor enables safe, rapid, efficient mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells in sickle cell disease patients after exchange transfusion

Haematologica. 2018 May;103(5):778-786. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2017.184788. Epub 2018 Feb 22.


Sickle cell disease is characterized by chronic anemia and vaso-occlusive crises, which eventually lead to multi-organ damage and premature death. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the only curative treatment but it is limited by toxicity and poor availability of HLA-compatible donors. A gene therapy approach based on the autologous transplantation of lentiviral-corrected hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells was shown to be efficacious in one patient. However, alterations of the bone marrow environment and properties of the red blood cells hamper the harvesting and immunoselection of patients' stem cells from bone marrow. The use of Filgrastim to mobilize large numbers of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells into the circulation has been associated with severe adverse events in sickle cell patients. Thus, broader application of the gene therapy approach requires the development of alternative mobilization methods. We set up a phase I/II clinical trial whose primary objective was to assess the safety of a single injection of Plerixafor in sickle cell patients undergoing red blood cell exchange to decrease the hemoglobin S level to below 30%. The secondary objective was to measure the efficiency of mobilization and isolation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. No adverse events were observed. Large numbers of CD34+ cells were mobilized extremely quickly. Importantly, the mobilized cells contained high numbers of hematopoietic stem cells, expressed high levels of stemness genes, and engrafted very efficiently in immunodeficient mice. Thus, Plerixafor can be safely used to mobilize hematopoietic stem cells in sickle cell patients; this finding opens up new avenues for treatment approaches based on gene addition and genome editing. identifier: NCT02212535.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / metabolism
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / pathology
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Antisickling Agents / administration & dosage
  • Benzylamines
  • Blood Transfusion*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cyclams
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Mobilization*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea / administration & dosage


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Antisickling Agents
  • Benzylamines
  • Cyclams
  • Heterocyclic Compounds
  • plerixafor
  • Hydroxyurea

Associated data