Thromboinflammatory mechanisms in sickle cell disease – challenging the hemostatic balance.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited hemoglobinopathy that is caused by the presence of abnormal hemoglobin S (HbS) in red blood cells, leading to alterations in red cell properties and shape, as the result of HbS dexoygenation and subsequent polymerization. SCD pathophysiology is characterized by chronic inflammatory processes, triggered by hemolytic and vaso-occlusive events, which lead to the varied complications, organ damage and elevated mortality seen in individuals with the disease. In association with activation of the endothelium and leukocytes, hemostatic alterations and thrombotic events are well-documented in SCD. Here we discuss the role for inflammatory pathways in modulating coagulation and inducing platelet activation in SCD, due to tissue factor activation, adhesion molecule expression, inflammatory mediator production and the induction of innate immune responses, amongst other mechanisms. Thromboinflammatory pathways may play a significant role in some of the major complications of SCD, such as stroke, venous thromboembolism and possibly acute chest syndrome, besides exacerbating the chronic inflammation and cellular interactions that trigger vaso-occlusion, ischemia-reperfusion processes, and eventually organ damage.