Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that affects millions of people worldwide and results in health care costs of at least $2.4 billion per year in the United States alone.1 It is caused by a mutation in the ? -globin gene which leads to the formation of hemoglobin S (HbS). HbS is able to polymerize and leads to RBC sickling, hemolysis, acute and chronic pain, chronic hemolytic anemia, multisystem organ damage, and a much-shortened life expectancy. Novel targeted therapeutic approaches are essential to overcome the cascade of the events that begin with HbS polymerization. Recently many investigators have demonstrated that SCD organ pathology is associated with oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an increase in oxidants without a similar increase in antioxidants. Excessive ROS accumulation triggers a cascade of oxidative reactions that damage lipids, proteins of red blood cells ultimately leading to hemolysis or early destruction. Although much progress has been made to ROS mediated complications in SCD patients, further studies are essential in an attempt to understand the source of ROS and factors involved in HbS polymerization and hemolytic process. We have demonstrated in our laboratory that SCD RBCs retain mitochondria. In addition, we have shown that these retained mitochondria create excessive intracellular ROS generation and are associated with hemolysis. Our preliminary data also show that these mitochondria cause an increased oxygen consumption in the red blood cells. We hypothesize that erythrocyte mitochondrial retention causes exacerbation of SCD pathogenesis by two non-mutually exclusive mechanisms 1) Mitochondria generate excessive ROS leading to hemolysis and 2) Mitochondria increased oxygen consumption leading to a hypoxic intracellular environment that causes Hb S polymerization. An understanding of mitochondrial oxygen consumption and consequential oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of SCD represents a novel opportunity for the development of targeted therapeutic agents. The possibility of mitochondria- derived ROS generation and oxygen consumption in RBCs are novel targets that have not been investigated before. Our long-term goal is to translate the novel finding of mitochondria-retaining SCD RBCs into new pharmaceutical therapies for sickle cell disease.

Public Health Relevance

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Complications of sickle cell disease (SCD) include pain crises, chronic hemolytic anemia, and multisystem organ damage. This proposal seeks to develop new strategies for the treatment of SCD by investigating the link between RBC mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and RBC mitochondrial oxygen consumption with sickle cell formation and hemolysis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Molecular and Cellular Hematology Study Section (MCH)
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Qasba, Pankaj
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University of Illinois at Chicago
Schools of Medicine
United States
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