• Join Today!

Become a member and connect with:

  • An Active Online Community
  • Articles and Advice on SCD
  • Help Understanding Clinical Trials

Key gender difference found in sickle cell disease


Nitric oxide, a substance that helps blood vessels dilate, is up to two times more available in women than men with the genetic condition, sickle cell anemia. This may help explain gender differences in survival, researchers report in today’s rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder, in which normally round red blood cells become misshaped like sickles and clog vessels. These blockages cause painful episodes known as sickle cell crises. An estimated 1 in 500 African Americans have the genetic condition that occurs when someone inherits two copies of a mutated gene for hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier in red blood cells.

“Like coronary artery disease, sickle cell disease seems linked to inflammation in the arteries,” says Mark Gladwin, M.D., a clinician-researcher, critical care medicine, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. He collaborated on this study with Richard O. Cannon III, M.D., clinical director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.