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      Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management (submit here)

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      Role of hydroxycarbamide in prevention of complications in patients with sickle cell disease


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          Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetically inherited condition caused by a point mutation in the beta globin gene. This results in the production of the abnormal hemoglobin, sickle hemoglobin (HbS). Hydroxycarbamide, is an antimetabolite/cytotoxic which works by inhibiting ribonucleotide reductase, blocking the synthesis of DNA and arresting cells in the S phase. In sickle cell anemia, it promotes fetal hemoglobin (HbF) synthesis, improves red cell hydration, decreases neutrophil and platelet count, modifies red cell endothelial cell interactions and acts as a nitric oxide donor. Trials have shown the clinical benefit of hydroxycarbamide in a subpopulation of adult patients with SCD, with a 44% reduction in the median annual rate of painful crises, a decrease in the incidence of acute chest syndrome and an estimated 40% reduction in overall mortality over a 9-year observational period. Its use in pediatrics has also been well established; trials have shown it is well tolerated and does not impair growth or development. In addition it decreases the number and duration of hospital attendences. A number of emerging uses of hydroxycarbamide currently are being investigated, such as stroke prevention.

          Most cited references48

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          Effect of hydroxyurea on the frequency of painful crises in sickle cell anemia. Investigators of the Multicenter Study of Hydroxyurea in Sickle Cell Anemia.

          In a previous open-label study of hydroxyurea therapy, the synthesis of fetal hemoglobin increased in most patients with sickle cell anemia, with only mild myelotoxicity. By inhibiting sickling, increased levels of fetal hemoglobin might decrease the frequency of painful crises. In a double-blind, randomized clinical trial, we tested the efficacy of hydroxyurea in reducing the frequency of painful crises in adults with a history of three or more such crises per year. The trial was stopped after a mean follow-up of 21 months. Among 148 men and 151 women studied at 21 clinics, the 152 patients assigned to hydroxyurea treatment had lower annual rates of crises than the 147 patients given placebo (median, 2.5 vs. 4.5 crises per year, P < 0.001). The median times to the first crisis (3.0 vs. 1.5 months, P = 0.01) and the second crisis (8.8 vs. 4.6 months, P < 0.001) were longer with hydroxyurea treatment. Fewer patients assigned to hydroxyurea had chest syndrome (25 vs. 51, P < 0.001), and fewer underwent transfusions (48 vs. 73, P = 0.001). At the end of the study, the doses of hydroxyurea ranged from 0 to 35 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. Treatment with hydroxyurea did not cause any important adverse effects. Hydroxyurea therapy can ameliorate the clinical course of sickle cell anemia in some adults with three or more painful crises per year. Maximal tolerated doses of hydroxyurea may not be necessary to achieve a therapeutic effect. The beneficial effects of hydroxyurea do not become manifest for several months, and its use must be carefully monitored. The long-term safety of hydroxyurea in patients with sickle cell anemia is uncertain.
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            Hydroxyurea enhances fetal hemoglobin production in sickle cell anemia.

            Hydroxyurea, a widely used cytotoxic/cytostatic agent that does not influence methylation of DNA bases, increases fetal hemoglobin production in anemic monkeys. To determine its effect in sickle cell anemia, we treated two patients with a total of four, 5-d courses (50 mg/kg per d, divided into three oral doses). With each course, fetal reticulocytes increased within 48-72 h, peaked in 7-11 d, and fell by 18-21 d. In patient I, fetal reticulocytes increased from 16.0 +/- 2.0% to peaks of 37.7 +/- 1.2, 40.0 +/- 2.0, and 32.0 +/- 1.4% in three successive courses. In patient II the increase was from 8.7 +/- 1.2 to 50.0 +/- 2.0%. Fetal hemoglobin increased from 7.9 to 12.3% in patient I and from 5.3 to 7.4% in patient II. Hemoglobin of patient I increased from 9.0 to 10.5 g/dl and in patient II from 6.7 to 9.9 g/dl. Additional single-day courses of hydroxyurea every 7-20 d maintained the fetal hemoglobin of patient I t 10.8-14.4%, and the total hemoglobin at 8.7-10.8 g/dl for an additional 60 d. The lowest absolute granulocyte count was 1,600/mm3; the lowest platelet count was 390,000/mm3. The amount of fetal hemoglobin per erythroid burst colony-forming unit (BFU-E)-derived colony cell was unchanged, but the number of cells per BFU-E-derived colony increased. Although examination of DNA synthesis in erythroid marrow cells in vitro revealed no decreased methylcytidine incorporation, Eco RI + Hpa II digestion of DNA revealed that hypomethylation of gamma-genes had taken place in vivo after treatment. This observation suggests that hydroxyurea is a potentially useful agent for the treatment of sickle cell anemia and that demethylation of the gamma-globin genes accompanies increased gamma-globin gene activity.
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              Kinetics and mechanism of deoxyhemoglobin S gelation: a new approach to understanding sickle cell disease.

              We report the results of a kinetic investigation on the gelation of purified deoxyhemoglobin S. Gelation was induced by raising the temperature and was monitored by measuring both the heat absorbed, with a microcalorimeter, and the appearance of linear birefringence, with a microspectrophotometer. The kinetics are unusual. Prior to the onset of gelation there is a delay period, followed by a sigmoidal progress curve. The delay time is formally dependent on approximately the 30th power of the deoxyhemoglobin S concentration; a decrease in concentration from 23 to 22 g/dl increases the delay time by a factor of four. It is also extremely temperature dependent; a 1 degrees C temperature rise in the range 20-30 degrees C almost halves the delay time. From these results we conclude that the initial rate is controlled by the nucleation of individual fibers. We present a kinetic model that accounts for the concentration, temperature, and time dependence of the initial phase of the gelation reaction. Extrapolation of our data to physiological conditions predicts that changes in intracellular hemoglobin concentration and oxygen saturation, realizable in vivo, produce enormous changes in the delay time. The range of delay times spans both the mean capillary transit and total circulation times. This result points to the delay time as an extremely important variable in determining the course of sickle cell disease, and suggests a new approach to therapy.

                Author and article information

                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                24 September 2009
                : 5
                : 745-755
                Department of Haematology, St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence: J Howard, Department of Haematology, St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, UK, Email jo.howard@ 123456gstt.nhs.uk
                © 2009 Wiles and Howard, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 18 September 2009

                sickle cell anemia,hydroxycarbamide,hydroxyurea,maximum tolerated dose,vaso-occlusive crisis


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