Rheologic predictors of the severity of the painful sickle cell crisis.Blood 1988; 72(4):1216-23Blood
Deformable sickle erythrocytes have been reported by Mohandas and Evans to be more adherent to vascular endothelium than rigid irreversibly sickled cells (ISC). To define the clinical implications of this finding we have determined genetic, hematological, clinical, and rheological characteristics of sickle erythrocytes obtained from 65 patients with sickle cell anemia and fetal hemoglobin (Hb F) levels less than 15%. The alpha-globin gene number had a significant effect on the hematological parameters, the percentage of dense cells, ISC number, and HB A2 levels. The presence or absence of alpha thalassemia, however, had no effect on the frequency and severity of the sickle cell painful crisis (r = 0.06, P greater than .05). RBC deformability, determined by an ektacytometer, showed great heterogeneity among patients with three or four alpha-globin genes. Linear regression analyses of the data showed significant positive correlation of the frequency and severity of the painful crisis with RBC deformability (r = 0.49, P less than .001), and negative correlations with the percentage of dense cells (r = -0.37, P = .002), and the percentage of ISC (r = -0.46, P less than .001). We propose that the more deformable the sickle RBC are, the greater their adherence to vascular endothelium, and the more they cause vaso-occlusive crises, RBC deformability and the percentage of dense cells (or ISC) seem to have a predictive value of the frequency and severity of painful crises in sickle cell anemia.