Transgenic sickle mice have vascular inflammation

John D. Belcher, Christopher J. Bryant, Julia Nguyen, Paul R. Bowlin, Miroslaw C. Kielbik, John C. Bischof, Robert P. Hebbel, Gregory M. Vercellotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Inflammation may play an essential role in vaso-occlusion in sickle cell disease. Sickle patients have high white counts and elevated levels of serum C-reactive protein (CRP), cytokines, and adhesion molecules. In addition, circulating endothelial cells, leukocytes, and platelets are activated. We examined 4 transgenic mouse models expressing human α- and sickle β-globin genes to determine if they mimic the inflammatory response seen in patients. These mouse models are designated NY-S, Berk-SAntilles, NY-S/SAntilles (NY-S × Berk-SAntilles), and Berk-S. The mean white counts were elevated 1.4- to 2.1-fold (P ≤ .01) in the Berk-SAntilles, NY-S/SAntilles, and Berk-S mice, but not in the NY-S mice compared with controls. Serum amyloid P-component (SAP), an acute-phase response protein with 60% to 70% sequence homology to CRP, was elevated 8.5- to 12.1-fold (P ≤ .001) in transgenic sickle mice. Similarly, serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) was elevated 1.6- to 1.9-fold (P ≤ .05). Western blots, confirming immunohistochemical staining, showed vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM), intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM), and platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM) were up-regulated 3- to 5-fold (P ≤ .05) in the lungs of sickle mice. Ribonuclease protection assays (RPAs) demonstrated VCAM mRNA also was elevated in sickle mice 1.2- to 1.4-fold (P ≤ .01). Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), a transcription factor critical for the inflammatory response, was elevated 1.9-fold (P < .006) in NY-S sickle mouse lungs. We conclude that transgenic sickle mice are good models to study vascular inflammation and the potential benefit of anti-inflammatory therapies to prevent vasoocclusion in sickle cell disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3953-3959
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2003


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