Children with sickle cell disease (SCD) demonstrate cerebral hemodynamic stress and are at high risk of strokes. We hypothesized that curative hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) normalizes cerebral hemodynamics in children with SCD compared with pre-transplant baseline. Whole-brain cerebral blood flow (CBF) and oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) were measured by magnetic resonance imaging 1 to 3 months before and 12 to 24 months after HSCT in 10 children with SCD. Three children had prior overt strokes, 5 children had prior silent strokes, and 1 child had abnormal transcranial Doppler ultrasound velocities. CBF and OEF of HSCT recipients were compared with non-SCD control participants and with SCD participants receiving chronic red blood cell transfusion therapy (CRTT) before and after a scheduled transfusion. Seven participants received matched sibling donor HSCT, and 3 participants received 8 out of 8 matched unrelated donor HSCT. All received reduced-intensity preparation and maintained engraftment, free of hemolytic anemia and SCD symptoms. Pre-transplant, CBF (93.5 mL/100 g/min) and OEF (36.8%) were elevated compared with non-SCD control participants, declining significantly 1 to 2 years after HSCT (CBF, 72.7 mL/100 g per minute; P = .004; OEF, 27.0%; P = .002), with post-HSCT CBF and OEF similar to non-SCD control participants. Furthermore, HSCT recipients demonstrated greater reduction in CBF (−19.4 mL/100 g/min) and OEF (−8.1%) after HSCT than children with SCD receiving CRTT after a scheduled transfusion (CBF, −0.9 mL/100 g/min; P = .024; OEF, −3.3%; P = .001). Curative HSCT normalizes whole-brain hemodynamics in children with SCD. This restoration of cerebral oxygen reserve may explain stroke protection after HSCT in this high-risk patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 26 2023


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