A systems biology consideration of the vasculopathy of sickle cell anemia: The need for multi-modality chemo-prophylaxis

Robert P. Hebbel, Greg M. Vercellotti, Karl A. Nath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Much of the morbidity and mortality of sickle cell anemia is accounted for by a chronic vasculopathy syndrome. There is currently no identified therapy, interventional or prophylactic, for this problem. For two reasons, development of an effective therapeutic approach will require a systems biology level perspective on the vascular pathobiology of sickle disease. In the first place, multiple biological processes contribute to the pathogenesis of vasculopathy: red cell sickling, inflammation and adhesion biology, coagulation activation, stasis, deficient bioavailability and excessive consumption of NO, excessive oxidation, and reperfusion injury physiology. The probable hierarchy of involvement of these disparate sub-biologies places inflammation caused by reperfusion injury physiology as the likely, proximate, linking pathophysiological factor. In the second place, most of these sub-biologies overlap with each other and, in any case, have multiple points of potential interaction and transactivation. Consequently, an approach modeled upon chemotherapy for cancer is needed. This would be a truly multi-modality approach that hopefully could be achieved via employment of relatively few drugs. It is proposed here that the specific combination of a statin with suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid would provide a suitable, broad, multi-modality approach to chemo-prophylaxis for sickle vasculopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-292
Number of pages22
JournalCardiovascular and Hematological Disorders - Drug Targets
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Hematology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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