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scientific articles

Safety and Effectiveness of Antimalarial Therapy in Sickle Cell Disease: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis

key information

source: BMC Infectious Diseases

year: 2019

authors: Frimpong A, Thiam LG, Arko-Boham B, Owusu EDA, Adjei GO


About 80% of all reported sickle cell disease (SCD) cases in children anually are recorded in Africa. Although malaria is considered a major cause of death in SCD children, there is limited data on the safety and effectiveness of the available antimalarial drugs used for prophylaxis. Also, previous systematic reviews have not provided quantitative measures of preventive effectiveness. The purpose of this research was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available literature to determine the safety and effectiveness of antimalarial chemoprophylaxis used in SCD patients.

We searched in PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, POPLine and Cochrane library, for the period spanning January 1990 to April 2018. We considered randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials comparing any antimalarial chemoprophylaxis to, 1) other antimalarial chemoprophylaxis, 2) placebo or 3) no intervention, in SCD patients. Studies comparing at least two treatment arms, for a minimum duration of three months, with no restriction on the number of patients per arm were reviewed. The data were extracted and expressed as odds ratios. Direct pairwise comparisons were performed using fixed effect models and the heterogeneity assessed using the I-square.

Six qualified studies that highlighted the importance of antimalarial chemoprophylaxis in SCD children were identified. In total, seven different interventions (Chloroquine, Mefloquine, Mefloquine artesunate, Proguanil, Pyrimethamine, Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine amodiaquine) were evaluated in 912 children with SCD. Overall, the meta-analysis showed that antimalarial chemoprophylaxis provided protection against parasitemia and clinical malaria episodes in children with SCD. Nevertheless, the risk of hospitalization (OR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.267-1.959; I2 = 0.0%), blood transfusion (OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.542-1.280; I2 = 29.733%), vaso-occlusive crisis (OR = 19, 95% CI = 1.713-2.792; I2 = 93.637%), and mortality (OR = 0.511, 95% CI = 0.189-1.384; I2 = 0.0%) did not differ between the intervention and placebo groups.

The data shows that antimalarial prophylaxis reduces the incidence of clinical malaria in children with SCD. However, there was no difference between the occurrence of adverse events in children who received placebo and those who received prophylaxis. This creates an urgent need to assess the efficacy of new antimalarial drug regimens as potential prophylactic agents in SCD patients.

organization: University of Ghana, Ghana; African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Ghana; Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), Switzerland

DOI: 10.1186/s12879-018-3556-0

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