Erythrocyte transfusion decreases morbidity in sickle cell disease, but is not without risk. Use of a hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier could offer the benefits of erythrocyte transfusion while reducing related complications. The authors tested the hypothesis that the novel hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier, HRC 101, would improve survival during exposure to acute hypoxia in a murine model of sickle cell disease, the transgenic mouse expressing hemoglobin SAD (alpha2beta2).
Wild-type (n = 30) and transgenic SAD (n = 36) mice received 0.02 ml/g HRC 101 (hemoglobin concentration, 10 g/dl) or an equal volume of 5% albumin. Thirty percent or 6% oxygen was administered to spontaneously breathing mice during halothane anesthesia (inspired concentration, 0.5%). The time to cessation of cardiac electrical activity was recorded. Survival was compared using Kaplan-Meier analysis.
Control mice survived the 60-min study period, whether breathing 30% or 6% oxygen. In contrast, all SAD mice given albumin and 6% oxygen died, with a median survival time of 9.0 min (interquartile range, 6.9-11.6 min; P < 0.0001). HRC 101 significantly increased survival in SAD mice breathing 6% oxygen. Of 12 SAD mice given HRC 101 and 6% oxygen, 4 survived the entire study period and 8 died, with a median survival time of 48 min (19-60 min; P < 0.0001 vs. albumin).
HRC 101 significantly decreased sickle-related mortality during exposure to acute hypoxic stress in transgenic mice expressing hemoglobin SAD. HRC 101 warrants further evaluation as a therapeutic modality in sickle cell disease.