Hydroxyurea therapy of a murine model of sickle cell anemia inhibits the progression of pneumococcal disease by down-modulating E-selectin

Academic Article


  • Sickle cell anemia is characterized by chronic hemolysis coupled with extensive vascular inflammation. This inflammatory state also mechanistically promotes a high risk of lethal, invasive pneumococcal infection. Current treatments to reduce vaso-occlusive complications include chronic hydroxyurea therapy to induce fetal hemoglobin. Because hydroxyurea also reduces leukocytosis, an understanding of the impact of this treatment on pneumococcal pathogenesis is needed. Using a sickle cell mouse model of pneumococcal pneumonia and sepsis, administration of hydroxyurea was found to significantly improve survival. Hydroxyurea treatment decreased neutrophil extravasation into the infected lung coincident with significantly reduced levels of E-selectin in serum and on pulmonary epithelia. The protective effect of hydroxyurea was abrogated in mice deficient in E-selectin. The decrease in Eselectin levels was also evident in human sickle cell patients receiving hydroxyurea therapy. These data indicate that in addition to induction of fetal hemoglobin, hydroxyurea attenuates leukocyte- endothelial interactions in sickle cell anemia, resulting in protection against lethal pneumococcal sepsis. © 2012 by The American Society of Hematology.
  • Published In

  • Blood  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Lebensburger JD; Howard T; Hu Y; Pestina TI; Gao G; Johnson M; Zakharenko SS; Ware RE; Tuomanen EI; Persons DA
  • Start Page

  • 1915
  • End Page

  • 1921
  • Volume

  • 119
  • Issue

  • 8