Sparing effect of hemoglobin F and hemoglobin A2 on the polymerization of hemoglobin S at physiologic ligand saturations

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Conference Proceeding

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Recent interest in therapies for sickle cell anemia based on elevating fetal Hb has made accurate estimates of the sparing effect of fetal Hb (Hb F) and other non-sickle Hbs on sickle Hb (Hb S) polymerization essential. We have developed a technique, using HbCO as surrogate for HbO2, that enables us to assess the solubility of Hb S as a function of ligand saturation under conditions that mimic those of the sickling disorders. Equimolar mixtures of unliganded Hb S with Hb F or normal Hb A2 were isosoluble. Solubilities for equimolar mixtures with normal (Hb A) or abnormal (Hb C) Hbs were also identical but were lower than in the prior case. Thus, the sparing effect of both Hb F and Hb A2 should be considered in therapeutic strategies designed to modify Hb S polymerization. Hemolysates, stripped of 2,3- bisphosphoglycerate, from sickle cell disease patients with Hb (F + A2) levels varying from 6 to 25%, as well as from a sickle trait individual, were used to evaluate equilibrium solubility as a function of ligand saturation over the range of pathophysiologic interest (25-70%). Our results show that the sparing effect of Hb (F + A2) increases relative to that of Hb A as ligand saturation increases, and that in the absence of ligand, ≃30% Hb (F + A2) is essentially isosoluble with the 60% Hb A of sickle trait. Although detailed knowledge of expected therapeutic benefits is confounded by the heterogeneity of Hb F distribution and other variables, these data should provide a framework for estimating likely clinical benefit from pharmacologic efforts to modulate globin gene expression.

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