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Proteomic analysis of plasma from children with sickle cell anemia and silent cerebral infarction

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Sanjay Tewari, George Renney, John Brewin, Kate Gardner, Fenella Kirkham, Baba Inusa, James E Barrett, Stephan Menzel, Swee Lay Thein, Malcolm Ward, David C Rees

Original languageEnglish
Early online date15 Mar 2018
Accepted/In press14 Mar 2018
E-pub ahead of print15 Mar 2018


King's Authors


Silent cerebral infarction is the commonest neurological abnormality in children with sickle cell anemia, affecting 30-40% 14 year olds. There are no known biomarkers to identify children with silent cerebral infarcts and the pathological basis is also unknown. We used an unbiased proteomic discovery approach to identify plasma proteins differing in concentration between children with and without silent cerebral infarcts. Clinical parameters and plasma samples were analysed from 51 children (mean age 11.8 years, range 6-18) with sickle cell anemia (HbSS). 19 children had silent cerebral infarcts and 32 normal MRI; the children with silent infarcts had lower HbF levels (8.6 vs. 16.1%, P=0.049) and higher systolic blood pressures (115 vs 108.6, P=0.027). Plasma proteomic analysis showed 13 proteins increased more than 1.3 fold in the SCI patients, including proteins involved in hypercoagulability (α2-antiplasmin, fibrinogen-γ chain, thrombospondin-4), inflammation (α2-macroglobulin, complement C1s and C3) and atherosclerosis (apolipoprotein B-100). Higher levels of gelsolin and retinol-binding protein 4 were also found in the population with silent infarcts, both of which have been linked to stroke. We investigated the genetic basis of these differences by studying 359 adults with sickle cell disease (199 with silent cerebral infarcts, 160 normal MRIs), who had previously undergone a genome-wide genotyping array. None of the genes coding for the differentially expressed proteins were significantly associated with silent infarction. Our study suggests that silent cerebral infarcts in sickle cell anemia may be associated with higher systolic blood pressure, lower HbF levels, hypercoagulability, inflammation and atherosclerotic lipoproteins.

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