Homocysteine is associated with severity of microvasculopathy in sickle cell disease patients

Sandra L. Samarron, Joshua W. Miller, Anthony T. Cheung, Peter C. Chen, Xin Lin, Theodore Zwerdling, Ted Wun, Ralph Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The pathophysiology of sickle cell disease (SCD) includes vasculopathy as well as anaemia. Elevated plasma homocysteine is a risk factor for vascular disease and may be associated with increased risk of vascular complications in SCD patients. In the present study, microvascular characteristics were assessed in the bulbar conjunctiva of 18 paediatric and 18 adult SCD patients, using the non-invasive technique of computer-assisted intravital microscopy. A vasculopathy severity index (SI) was computed to quantify the degree of microvasculopathy in each patient. Plasma homocysteine and several of its determinants [serum folate and vitamin B12, plasma pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (vitamin B6 status) and creatinine (kidney function)] were measured. Age was strongly correlated with microvasculopathy in the SCD patients, with the SI increasing about 0·1 unit per one-year increase in age (P < 0·001). After adjusting for age, gender, B-vitamin status and creatinine, homocysteine concentration was directly correlated with severity index (P < 0·05). Age and homocysteine concentration were independent predictors of microvasculopathy in SCD patients. It remains to be determined whether lowering homocysteine concentrations using appropriate B-vitamin supplements (folate and vitamins B12 and B6) ‒ particularly if started early in life ‒ could ameliorate microvasculopathy and its associated complications in SCD patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-457
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology


  • folate vitamin B12
  • homocysteine
  • intravital microscopy
  • microvasculature
  • sickle cell disease
  • vitamin B6


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