What is hemolysis and what is its role in the pathophysiology of sickle cell disease (SCD)?

Updated: May 12, 2021
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Hemolysis is a constant finding in sickle cell syndromes. Approximately one third of RBCs undergo intravascular hemolysis, possibly due to loss of membrane filaments during oxygenation and deoxygenation. The remainder hemolyze by erythrophagocytosis by macrophages. This process can be partially modified by Fc (crystallizable fragment) blockade, suggesting that the process can be mediated by immune mechanisms.

Sickle RBCs have increased immunoglobulin G (IgG) on the cell surface. Vaso-occlusive crisis is often triggered by infection. levels of fibrinogen, fibronectin, and D-dimer are elevated in these patients. Plasma clotting factors likely participate in the microthrombi in the pre-arterioles.

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