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Concept: Sickle-cell disease


STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine whether patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) experience longer wait times to see a physician after arrival to an emergency department (ED) compared to patients with long bone fracture and patients presenting with all other possible conditions (General Patient Sample), and to attempt to disentangle the effects of race and disease status on any observed differences. METHODS: A cross-sectional, comparative analysis of year 2003 through 2008 data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a nationally representative sample of nonfederal emergency department visits in the United States. Our primary outcome was wait time (in minutes) to see a physician after arrival to an ED. A generalized linear model was used to examine ratios of wait times comparing SCD visits to the two comparison groups. RESULTS: SCD patients experienced wait times 25% longer than the General Patient Sample, though this difference was explained by the African-American race of the SCD patients. SCD patients waited 50% longer than did patients with long bone fracture even after accounting for race and assigned triage priority. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with SCD presenting to an ED for care experience longer wait times than other groups, even after accounting for assigned triage level. The African-American race of the SCD patients, and their status as having SCD itself, both appear to contribute to longer wait times for these patients. These data confirm patient anecdotal reports and are in need of intervention.

Concepts: Health care provider, Bone fracture, Patient, Hospital, United States, Physician, Sickle-cell disease, Sickle


Patterns of genetic diversity in parasite antigen gene families hold important information about their potential to generate antigenic variation within and between hosts. The evolution of such gene families is typically driven by gene duplication, followed by point mutation and gene conversion. There is great interest in estimating the rates of these processes from molecular sequences for understanding the evolution of the pathogen and its significance for infection processes. In this study, a series of models are constructed to investigate hypotheses about the nucleotide diversity patterns between closely related gene sequences from the antigen gene archive of the African trypanosome, the protozoan parasite causative of human sleeping sickness in Equatorial Africa. We use a hidden Markov model approach to identify two scales of diversification: clustering of sequence mismatches, a putative indicator of gene conversion events with other lower-identity donor genes in the archive, and at a sparser scale, isolated mismatches, likely arising from independent point mutations. In addition to quantifying the respective probabilities of occurrence of these two processes, our approach yields estimates for the gene conversion tract length distribution and the average diversity contributed locally by conversion events. Model fitting is conducted using a Bayesian framework. We find that diversifying gene conversion events with lower-identity partners occur at least five times less frequently than point mutations on variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) pairs, and the average imported conversion tract is between 14 and 25 nucleotides long. However, because of the high diversity introduced by gene conversion, the two processes have almost equal impact on the per-nucleotide rate of sequence diversification between VSG subfamily members. We are able to disentangle the most likely locations of point mutations and conversions on each aligned gene pair.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Gene, Genetics, Mutation, Evolution, Point mutation, Sickle-cell disease


Cardiopulmonary complications are the leading cause of mortality in sickle cell anemia (SCA). Elevated tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity, pulmonary hypertension, diastolic, and autonomic dysfunction have all been described, but a unifying pathophysiology and mechanism explaining the poor prognosis and propensity to sudden death has been elusive. Herein, SCA mice underwent a longitudinal comprehensive cardiac analysis, combining state-of-the-art cardiac imaging with electrocardiography, histopathology, and molecular analysis to determine the basis of cardiac dysfunction. We show that in SCA mice, anemia-induced hyperdynamic physiology was gradually superimposed with restrictive physiology, characterized by progressive left atrial enlargement and diastolic dysfunction with preserved systolic function. This phenomenon was absent in WT mice with experimentally induced chronic anemia of similar degree and duration. Restrictive physiology was associated with microscopic cardiomyocyte loss and secondary fibrosis detectable as increased extracellular volume by cardiac-MRI. Ultrastructural mitochondrial changes were consistent with severe chronic hypoxia/ischemia and sarcomere diastolic-length was shortened. Transcriptome analysis revealed up-regulation of genes involving angiogenesis, extracellular-matrix, circadian-rhythm, oxidative stress, and hypoxia, whereas ion-channel transport and cardiac conduction were down-regulated. Indeed, progressive corrected QT prolongation, arrhythmias, and ischemic changes were noted in SCA mice before sudden death. Sudden cardiac death is common in humans with restrictive cardiomyopathies and long QT syndromes. Our findings may thus provide a unifying cardiac pathophysiology that explains the reported cardiac abnormalities and sudden death seen in humans with SCA.

Concepts: Red blood cell, Cardiology, Heart, Blood pressure, Cardiac arrest, Long QT syndrome, Sickle-cell disease, Sudden cardiac death


Stroke is a major complication of sickle cell anaemia (SCA). It occurs commonly in childhood with about 10 % of children with sickle cell anaemia getting affected by this complication. In Uganda, there is paucity of data on the prevalence of stroke in children admitted in a tertiary institution. We determined the prevalence of stroke amongst children with SCA admitted to Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda and described the ir co-morbidities.

Concepts: Red blood cell, Sickle-cell disease, Sickle, Anemias


Background The up-regulation of P-selectin in endothelial cells and platelets contributes to the cell-cell interactions that are involved in the pathogenesis of vaso-occlusion and sickle cell-related pain crises. The safety and efficacy of crizanlizumab, an antibody against the adhesion molecule P-selectin, were evaluated in patients with sickle cell disease. Methods In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial, we assigned patients to receive low-dose crizanlizumab (2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight), high-dose crizanlizumab (5.0 mg per kilogram), or placebo, administered intravenously 14 times over a period of 52 weeks. Patients who were receiving concomitant hydroxyurea as well as those not receiving hydroxyurea were included in the study. The primary end point was the annual rate of sickle cell-related pain crises with high-dose crizanlizumab versus placebo. The annual rate of days hospitalized, the times to first and second crises, annual rates of uncomplicated crises (defined as crises other than the acute chest syndrome, hepatic sequestration, splenic sequestration, or priapism) and the acute chest syndrome, and patient-reported outcomes were also assessed. Results A total of 198 patients underwent randomization at 60 sites. The median rate of crises per year was 1.63 with high-dose crizanlizumab versus 2.98 with placebo (indicating a 45.3% lower rate with high-dose crizanlizumab, P=0.01). The median time to the first crisis was significantly longer with high-dose crizanlizumab than with placebo (4.07 vs. 1.38 months, P=0.001), as was the median time to the second crisis (10.32 vs. 5.09 months, P=0.02). The median rate of uncomplicated crises per year was 1.08 with high-dose crizanlizumab, as compared with 2.91 with placebo (indicating a 62.9% lower rate with high-dose crizanlizumab, P=0.02). Adverse events that occurred in 10% or more of the patients in either active-treatment group and at a frequency that was at least twice as high as that in the placebo group were arthralgia, diarrhea, pruritus, vomiting, and chest pain. Conclusions In patients with sickle cell disease, crizanlizumab therapy resulted in a significantly lower rate of sickle cell-related pain crises than placebo and was associated with a low incidence of adverse events. (Funded by Selexys Pharmaceuticals and others; SUSTAIN number, NCT01895361 .).

Concepts: Time, Clinical trial, Medical terms, Red blood cell, Placebo, Sickle-cell disease, Sickle, Priapism


Sickle cell disease results from a homozygous missense mutation in the β-globin gene that causes polymerization of hemoglobin S. Gene therapy for patients with this disorder is complicated by the complex cellular abnormalities and challenges in achieving effective, persistent inhibition of polymerization of hemoglobin S. We describe our first patient treated with lentiviral vector-mediated addition of an antisickling β-globin gene into autologous hematopoietic stem cells. Adverse events were consistent with busulfan conditioning. Fifteen months after treatment, the level of therapeutic antisickling β-globin remained high (approximately 50% of β-like-globin chains) without recurrence of sickle crises and with correction of the biologic hallmarks of the disease. (Funded by Bluebird Bio and others; HGB-205 number, NCT02151526 .).

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Mutation, Red blood cell, Point mutation, Sickle-cell disease, Sickle


Iron deficiency causes long-term adverse consequences for children and is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. Observational studies suggest that iron deficiency anemia protects against Plasmodiumfalciparum malaria and several intervention trials have indicated that iron supplementation increases malaria risk through unknown mechanism(s). This poses a major challenge for health policy. We investigated how anemia inhibits blood stage malaria infection and how iron supplementation abrogates this protection.

Concepts: Immune system, Hemoglobin, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Red blood cell, Iron deficiency anemia, Sickle-cell disease, Transferrin


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a hematological disorder leading to blood vessel occlusion accompanied by painful episodes and even death. Red blood cells (RBCs) of SCD patients have diverse shapes that reveal important biomechanical and bio-rheological characteristics, e.g. their density, fragility, adhesive properties, etc. Hence, having an objective and effective way of RBC shape quantification and classification will lead to better insights and eventual better prognosis of the disease. To this end, we have developed an automated, high-throughput, ex-vivo RBC shape classification framework that consists of three stages. First, we present an automatic hierarchical RBC extraction method to detect the RBC region (ROI) from the background, and then separate touching RBCs in the ROI images by applying an improved random walk method based on automatic seed generation. Second, we apply a mask-based RBC patch-size normalization method to normalize the variant size of segmented single RBC patches into uniform size. Third, we employ deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to realize RBC classification; the alternating convolution and pooling operations can deal with non-linear and complex patterns. Furthermore, we investigate the specific shape factor quantification for the classified RBC image data in order to develop a general multiscale shape analysis. We perform several experiments on raw microscopy image datasets from 8 SCD patients (over 7,000 single RBC images) through a 5-fold cross validation method both for oxygenated and deoxygenated RBCs. We demonstrate that the proposed framework can successfully classify sickle shape RBCs in an automated manner with high accuracy, and we also provide the corresponding shape factor analysis, which can be used synergistically with the CNN analysis for more robust predictions. Moreover, the trained deep CNN exhibits good performance even for a deoxygenated dataset and distinguishes the subtle differences in texture alteration inside the oxygenated and deoxygenated RBCs.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Blood, Malaria, Red blood cell, Bone marrow, Hematology, Sickle-cell disease, Blood transfusion


Background Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that is characterized by painful vaso-occlusive crises, for which there are few treatment options. Platelets mediate intercellular adhesion and thrombosis during vaso-occlusion in sickle cell anemia, which suggests a role for antiplatelet agents in modifying disease events. Methods Children and adolescents 2 through 17 years of age with sickle cell anemia were randomly assigned to receive oral prasugrel or placebo for 9 to 24 months. The primary end point was the rate of vaso-occlusive crisis, a composite of painful crisis or acute chest syndrome. The secondary end points were the rate of sickle cell-related pain and the intensity of pain, which were assessed daily with the use of pain diaries. Results A total of 341 patients underwent randomization at 51 sites in 13 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The rate of vaso-occlusive crisis events per person-year was 2.30 in the prasugrel group and 2.77 in the placebo group (rate ratio, 0.83; 95% confidence interval, 0.66 to 1.05; P=0.12). There were no significant differences between the groups in the secondary end points of diary-reported events. The safety end points, including the frequency of bleeding events requiring medical intervention, of hemorrhagic and nonhemorrhagic adverse events that occurred while patients were taking prasugrel or placebo, and of discontinuations due to prasugrel or placebo, did not differ significantly between the groups. Conclusions Among children and adolescents with sickle cell anemia, the rate of vaso-occlusive crisis was not significantly lower among those who received prasugrel than among those who received placebo. There were no significant between-group differences in the safety findings. (Funded by Daiichi Sankyo and Eli Lilly; number, NCT01794000 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Blood, Red blood cell, Sickle-cell disease, Blood transfusion, Sickle, Vaso-occlusive crisis, Eli Lilly and Company


At its June 2016 meeting, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended routine use of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (serogroups A, C, W, and Y; including MenACWY-D [Menactra, Sanofi Pasteur] or MenACWY-CRM [Menveo, GlaxoSmithKline]) for persons aged ≥2 months with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. ACIP has previously recommended routine vaccination of persons aged ≥2 months who have certain medical conditions that increase risk for meningococcal disease (1), including persons who have persistent (e.g., genetic) deficiencies in the complement pathway (e.g., C3, properdin, Factor D, Factor H, or C5-C9); persons receiving eculizumab (Soliris, Alexion Pharmaceuticals) for treatment of atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome or paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (because the drug binds C5 and inhibits the terminal complement pathway); and persons with functional or anatomic asplenia (including persons with sickle cell disease). Routine vaccination with meningococcal conjugate vaccine is also recommended for all healthy adolescents in the United States (1). This report summarizes the evidence considered by ACIP in recommending vaccination for HIV-infected persons, and provides recommendations and guidance for use of meningococcal conjugate vaccines (serogroups A, C, W, and Y) among HIV-infected persons aged ≥2 months; the majority of meningococcal disease among HIV-infected persons is caused by these four serogroups.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Malaria, Vaccination, Red blood cell, Complement system, Sickle-cell disease, Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria