, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 5–15 | Cite as

Sickle cell vasoocclusion: Many issues and some answers

  • D. K. Kaul
  • R. L. Nagel
Multi-author Reviews Developments in Sickle Cell Anemia Research, Part I


The pathophysiology of sickle (SS) cell vasoocclusion is derived from the presence of hemoglobin S (HbS) which forms polymeric fibers in the deoxygenated state. Nevertheless, phenotypic expression of sickle cell disease (i.e., clinical severity) shows marked individual variations and is influenced by genetic modifiers such as epistatic effects of linked and unlinked genes. Furthermore, the polymerization of HbS is central but not the only event, and is more likely a consequence of disruptions of the steady state of flow. The available evidence indicates that the vasoocclusive crisis is a microcirculatory event in which multiple factors could be involved. We present a model of vasoocclusion as a two step process in which adhesion of deformable cells occurs first, followed by obstruction induced by less deformable SS cells. This review discusses, in addition, rheologic and microcirculatory behavior of SS erythrocytes and the interacting role of vascular factors, red cell heterogeneity, deoxygenation rates, and red cell-endothelial interactions in the pathophysiology of SS cell vasoocclusion.

Key words

Sickle erythrocyte vasoocclusion adhesion von Willebrand factor epistatic effects abnormal rheology vascular factors deoxygenation rates red cell heterogeneity 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. K. Kaul
    • 1
  • R. L. Nagel
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Hematology, Albert Einstein College of MedicineYeshiva UniversityBronx(USA)

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