Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Hydroxyurea induction of hemoglobin F production in sickle cell disease: relationship between cytotoxicity and F cell production

  1. GJ Dover,
  2. RK Humphries,
  3. JG Moore,
  4. TJ Ley,
  5. NS Young,
  6. S Charache, and
  7. AW Nienhuis

Abstract

Initial alterations in fetal hemoglobin (HbF) production among eight sickle cell anemia subjects treated with hydroxyurea (Hu) are summarized. Four of these subjects had been previously treated with 5- azacytidine (5-aza). All subjects treated with Hu (50 mg/kg/d for three to five days) had suppression of their total reticulocyte counts by seven days, whereas the four subjects previously treated with 5-aza (2 mg/kg/d for three to five days) had increased reticulocyte counts at day 7. The effect of Hu on increasing the number of HbF-containing reticulocytes (F reticulocytes) is extremely variable, ranging from ten- to less than onefold differences in maximal posttherapy v pretherapy levels. Recovery from marrow suppression did not result in greater than twofold increases in F reticulocyte counts. Mean day 7 F reticulocyte levels in the four subjects treated with both Hu and 5-aza were 4.1 X 10/microL and 15.4 X 10(4)/microL, respectively. Among Hu-treated subjects, increased F reticulocyte production was correlated with low serum creatinine levels and rapid removal of Hu from the plasma. Furthermore, suppression of CFU-E colony formation on day 2 of therapy with Hu was inversely correlated with maximal F reticulocyte response. We conclude that where Hu treatment results in marrow toxicity (decreased reticulocyte counts, decreased CFU-E colony formation) HbF production is less likely to increase. Those sickle cell anemia subjects with minimal renal dysfunction (serum creatinine level, greater than 1.0 mg/dL) exhibit the most cytotoxicity and least F reticulocyte response to Hu.