Dynamics of von Willebrand factor reactivity in sickle cell disease during vaso-occlusive crisis and steady state.J Thromb Haemost 2017; 15(7):1392-1402JT
Essentials The role of von Willebrand Factor (VWF) in the pathophysiology of sickle cell disease is unclear. We assessed markers of VWF during admission for vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) and steady state. VWF reactivity was higher during VOC and was associated with inflammation and neutrophil activation. Hyper-adhesive VWF may promote VOC in sickle cell disease.
Background Endothelial activation plays a central role in the pathophysiology of vaso-occlusion in sickle cell disease (SCD), facilitating adhesive interactions with circulating blood cells. Upon activation, various adhesive molecules are expressed, including von Willebrand factor (VWF). Increased VWF levels have been observed in patients with SCD during steady state. However, the role of VWF in the pathogenesis of SCD vaso-occlusion is unclear. Objectives To longitudinally assess the quantity and reactivity of VWF and its regulating protease ADAMTS-13 during vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC). Methods In this observational study, we obtained sequential blood samples in adult SCD patients during VOC. Results VWF reactivity was significantly higher during VOC (active VWF, VWF glycoprotein Ib-binding activity, and high molecular weight multimers), whereas platelet count and levels of ADAMTS-13 antigen and ADAMTS-13 activity were concomitantly lower than during steady state. Levels of VWF antigen, VWF propeptide (VWF:pp) and ADAMTS-13 specific activity did not change during VOC. VWF reactivity correlated strongly with markers of inflammation and neutrophil activation, and was inversely correlated with the platelet count. In patients who developed acute chest syndrome, levels of VWF, VWF:pp and active, hyperadhesive VWF were significantly higher, whereas ADAMTS-13 activity was lower, than in patients without this complication. Conclusions We provide the first evidence that VOC in SCD is associated with increased reactivity of VWF, without a pronounced ADAMTS-13 deficiency. This hyper-reactivity may be explained by resistance of VWF to proteolysis, secondary to processes such as inflammation and oxidative stress. Hyperadhesive VWF, scavenging blood cells in the microcirculation, may thereby amplify and sustain VOC in SCD.