Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic, incurable hereditary disease. The vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) is the most frequently occurring acute complication in sickle cell patients and accounts for the majority of SCD-related hospital admissions. Another major complication is the potentially fatal acute chest syndrome (ACS). The prototypic long pentraxin-3 (PTX3), an acute phase protein and a key component of innate immunity, is linked to ischemia-induced inflammation, a condition incriminated in SCD complications.
To investigate the expression of PTX3 in stable SCD and VOC patients and to assess its relation to the development and progression of ACS.
We conducted this study on 160 patients with confirmed SCD (20 stable SCD and 140 in VOC), and 10 healthy age- and sex-matched controls. Patients were diagnosed as SCD by high-performance liquid chromatography. PTX3 levels were assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay.
In the stable state, all 20 SCD patients had PTX3 levels (range = 0.9-2.1 ng/ml; median = 1.1) comparable to those of healthy controls (range = 0.8-2.0 ng/ml; median = 1.0) (P > 0.05). During the VOC, plasma PTX3 significantly increased (range = 8.7-37.2 ng/ml; median = 22.3) (P < 0.01). Out of 140 VOC patients, 15 (10.7%) developed ACS and four required mechanical ventilation, of which two died. The median plasma level of PTX3 (22.3 ng/ml) was set as a cut-off value to stratify patients into low- and high-PTX3 expressers. Of the 140 VOC patients, 43 (30.7%) had PTX3 levels >22.3 ng/ml, of these, 13 patients developed ACS (13/43; 30.2%); of the remaining 97 patients who had PTX3 ≤22.3 ng/ml, only two patients (2/97; 2.1%) progressed to ACS, with a further increment in PTX3 in all of them. PTX3 levels were correlated with length of hospital stay in VOC patients and markers of lung injury in ACS patients.
PTX3 levels were higher in SCD patients in VOC, being associated with longer hospital stay. Higher initial PTX3 concentrations were related to the development of ACS with a further increase in PTX3 levels observed upon progression to ACS. Thus, PTX3 could be used as a subjective method to predict occurrence and severity of SCD acute complications.