Oxygen-dependent flow of sickle trait blood as an in vitro therapeutic benchmark for sickle cell disease treatments

Xinran Lu, Anwesha Chaudhury, John M. Higgins, David K. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Although homozygous sickle cell disease is often clinically severe, the corresponding heterozygous state, sickle cell trait, is almost completely benign despite the fact that there is only a modest difference in sickle hemoglobin levels between the two conditions. In both conditions, hypoxia can lead to polymerization of sickle hemoglobin, changes in red cell mechanical properties, and impaired blood flow. Here, we test the hypothesis that differences in the oxygen-dependent rheological properties in the two conditions might help explain the difference in clinical phenotypes. We use a microfluidic platform that permits quantification of blood rheology under defined oxygen conditions in physiologically sized microchannels and under physiologic shear rates. We find that, even with its lower sickle hemoglobin concentration, sickle trait blood apparent viscosity increases with decreasing oxygen tension and may stop flowing under completely anoxic conditions, though far less readily than the homozygous condition. Sickle cell trait blood flow becomes impaired at significantly lower oxygen tension than sickle cell disease. We also demonstrate how sickle cell trait can serve as a benchmark for sickle cell disease therapies. We characterize the rheological effects of exchange transfusion therapy by mixing sickle blood with nonsickle blood and quantifying the transfusion targets for sickle hemoglobin composition below which the rheological response resembles sickle trait. These studies quantify the differences in blood flow phenotypes of sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait, and they provide a potentially powerful new benchmark for evaluating putative therapies in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1227-1235
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Hematology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Oxygen-dependent flow of sickle trait blood as an in vitro therapeutic benchmark for sickle cell disease treatments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this