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Inflammation Markers May Predict Poor Outcomes in Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia

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More frequent complications in people with sickle cell anemia (SCA) was associated with high blood levels of 2 pro-inflammatory molecules, according to a study published in Annals of Hematology.

Interleukin-6 (IL-6) level was a predictor for poor outcomes and interleukin-8 (IL-8) level was associated with leg ulcer occurrence.

Data obtained from patient interview and medical records was used to study the clinical impact of proinflammatory cytokines interleukin 1-β (IL-1β), IL-6, and IL-8 in patients with SCA. Participants were followed for a median of 18 years (range: 5 to 34 years).

Higher IL-6 levels were associated with higher frequency of vaso-occlusive crisis per year (P = 0.0236), acute chest syndrome (P = 0.01), leg ulcers (P = 0.0001), osteonecrosis (P = 0.0006), stroke (P = 0.0486), and priapism (P = 0.0347) compared to participants who did not experience these complications.

Increased levels of IL-8 was associated with leg ulcers (P = 0.0184).

The authors concluded that “the present study emphasizes the role of inflammation in SCA pathophysiology, reveals an association of IL-8 levels and leg ulcer occurrence, and indicates that IL-6 levels can be used as a useful predictor for poor outcomes in SCA.”


Domingos IF, Pereira-Martins DA, Sobreira MJVC, et al. High levels of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 are associated with a poor clinical outcome in sickle cell anemia. Ann Hematol. 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00277-020-03978-8.