Serum albumin is independently associated with higher mortality in adult sickle cell patients: Results of three independent cohorts

PLoS One. 2020 Aug 10;15(8):e0237543. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0237543. eCollection 2020.


Sickle cell disease (SCD) impacts liver and kidney function as well as skin integrity. These complications, as well as the hyperinflammatory state of SCD, could affect serum albumin. Serum albumin has key roles in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic pathways and maintains vascular integrity. In SCD, these pathways modulate disease severity and clinical outcomes. We used three independent SCD adult cohorts to assess clinical predictors of serum albumin as well its association with mortality. In 2553 SCD adult participants, the frequency of low (<35 g/L) serum albumin was 5%. Older age and lower hemoglobin (P <0.001) were associated with lower serum albumin in all three cohorts. In age and hemoglobin adjusted analysis, higher liver enzymes (P <0.05) were associated with lower serum albumin. In two of the three cohorts, lower kidney function as measured by Glomerular Filtration Rate (P<0.001) was associated with lower serum albumin. Lower serum albumin predicted higher risk of tricuspid regurgitation velocity ≥ 2.5 m/s (OR = 1.1 per g/L, P ≤0.01). In all three cohorts, patients with low serum albumin had higher mortality (adjusted HR ≥2.9, P ≤0.003). This study confirms the role of serum albumin as a biomarker of disease severity and prognosis in patients with SCD. Albumin as a biomarker and possible mediator of SCD severity should be studied further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / mortality*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / pathology
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Serum Albumin / analysis*
  • Survival Rate


  • Biomarkers
  • Hemoglobins
  • Serum Albumin

Grant support

M.J. Telen and A.E. Ashley-Koch received grants from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.