Author ORCID Identifier

Yuncheng Man

Erina Quinn

Ran An

Umut A. Gurkan

Document Type


Publication Date



Sickle cell disease (SCD), which afflicts 100 000 Americans, as well as millions worldwide, is associated with anemia, lifelong morbidity, and early mortality. Abnormal adhesion of sickle red blood cells (RBCs) to activated vascular endothelium may contribute acutely to the initiation of painful vaso-occlusive crises and chronically to endothelial damage in SCD. Sickle RBCs adhere to activated endothelium through several adhesion mechanisms. In this study, using whole blood from 17 people with heterozygous SCD (HbS variant) and 55 people with homozygous SCD (HbSS) analyzed in an in vitro microfluidic assay, we present evidence for the adhesion of sickle RBCs to immobilized recombinant intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1). We show that sickle RBC adhesion to ICAM-1 in vitro is associated with evidence of hemolysis in vivo, marked by elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels, reticulocytosis, and lower fetal hemoglobin levels. Further, RBC adhesion to ICAM-1 correlates with a history of intracardiac or intrapulmonary right-to-left shunts. Studies of potential ICAM-1 ligands on RBC membranes revealed that RBC–ICAM-1 interactions were mediated by fibrinogen bound to the RBC membrane. We describe, for the first time, RBC rolling behavior on ICAM-1 under high shear rates. Our results suggest that firm adhesion of sickle RBCs to ICAM-1 most likely occurs in postcapillary venules at low physiological shear rates, which is facilitated by initial rolling in high shear regions (eg, capillaries). Inhibition of RBC and ICAM-1 interactions may constitute a novel therapeutic target in SCD.


adhesions, fibrinogen, intercellular adhesion molecule 1, shunt, sickle cell anemia, retail clinics, erythrocytes

Publication Title

Blood Advances





First Page


Last Page



2013126; 2015191; R01HL133574; OT2HL152643; U01HL117659; T32HL134622; UL1TR002548; CAREER Award 1552782


Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland; National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; National Institutes of Health (NIH) Road-map for Medical Research, Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program; National Science Foundation (NSF)

Included in

Hematology Commons



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