In vivo studies of sickle red blood cells.Microcirculation 2004; 11(2):153-65M
The defining clinical feature of sickle cell anemia is periodic occurrence of painful vasoocclusive crisis. Factors that promote trapping and sickling of red cells in the microcirculation are likely to trigger vasoocclusion. The marked red cell heterogeneity in sickle blood and abnormal adhesion of sickle red cells to vascular endothelium would be major disruptive influences. Using ex vivo and in vivo models, the authors show how to dissect the relative contribution of heterogeneous sickle red cell classes to adhesive and obstructive events. These studies revealed that (1) both rheological abnormalities and adhesion of sickle red cells contribute to their abnormal hemodynamic behavior, (2) venules are the sites of sickle cell adhesion, and (3) sickle red cell deformability plays an important role in adhesive and obstructive events. Preferential adhesion of deformable sickle red cells in postcapillary venules followed by selective trapping of dense sickle red cells could result in vasoocclusion. An updated version of this 2-step model is presented. The multifactorial nature of sickle red cell adhesion needs to be considered in designing antiadhesive therapy in vivo.