BACKGROUND: Dense red blood cells (DRBCs) are associated with chronic clinical manifestations of sickle-cell-disease (SCD). Hydroxyurea (HU) decreases the percent (%) DRBCs, thereby improving its therapeutic benefits, especially the prevention of SCD clinical complications, but parameters influencing %DRBCs remain unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine predictive biological parameters of %DRBC decline under HU.
METHODS: Factors affecting the %DRBC decrease in SCD patients HU-treated for ≥6 months were analyzed. Biological parameters and the %DRBCs were determined before starting HU and after ≥6 months of HU intake. Bivariate analyses evaluated the impact of each biological parameter variation on %DRBC changes under treatment. Multivariate analyses assessed the correlations between the decreased %DRBCs and biological parameters.
RESULTS: The %DRBCs declined by 40.95% after ≥6 months on HU. That decrease was associated with less hemolysis, however in several analyses on this group of patients we did not find a statistically significant correlation between decrease in %DRBCs and increase in HbF. Initial %DRBC values were the most relevant parameter to predict %DRBC decline.
CONCLUSION: Our results strengthen the known HU efficacy in SCD management statistically independently of the classical HbF biological response. Decreasing %DRBCs is essential to limiting chronic SCD symptoms related to DRBCs and predictive factors might help prevent those manifestations. The results of this study provide new perspectives on indication for HU use, i.e., to prevent SCD-induced organ damage.