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Functional and Radiologic Assessment of the Brain after Reduced-Intensity Unrelated Donor Transplantation for Severe Sickle Cell Disease: Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network Study 0601. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2019 May;25(5):e174-e178



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85061190072 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   17 Citations


Stroke and cognitive decline are hallmarks of sickle cell disease (SCD). The natural history of SCD predicts progressive loss of 1 IQ point per year attributable to disease-related pathology. Hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is curative by reverting to donor-derived erythropoiesis, but evidence that HCT can positively influence disease-induced cognitive decline is lacking. The Sickle Cell Unrelated Transplant Trial prospectively evaluated cognition and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings at 2 years after reduced-intensity conditioning followed by unrelated donor HCT. Thirteen study participants completed pre-HCT and post-HCT assessments of intelligence. The mean age of participants was 12.5 ± 3.3 years (range, 6.7 to 17.4 years). Eleven of the 13 recipients completed imaging studies at baseline and post-HCT. Seven had overt stroke pre-HCT, and 1 had an elevated transcranial Doppler velocity with abnormal MRI. The mean Full-Scale IQ was stable: 90.9 ± 13 at baseline and 91.2 ± 13 post-HCT. The mean Performance IQ was 89.9 ± 13 at baseline versus 90.9 ± 13 post-HCT, and mean Verbal IQ was 93.4 ± 13 at baseline versus 93.2 ± 13 post-HCT, respectively. Six recipients had stable MRI; 2 showed resolution of all areas of infarction. Three had additional infarcts post-HCT noted at the 2-year time point. This is the first report describing stabilization of IQ and central nervous system outcomes after unrelated donor HCT despite previous central nervous system morbidity and post-HCT posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome. These preliminary results post-HCT suggest that HCT may stabilize the cognitive decline of SCD and should continue to be followed over the long term.

Author List

King AA, McKinstry RC, Wu J, Eapen M, Abel R, Varughese T, Kamani N, Shenoy S


Mary Eapen MBBS, DCh, MRCPI, MS Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Anemia, Sickle Cell
Central Nervous System Diseases
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
Intelligence Tests
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Transplantation Conditioning
Transplantation, Homologous
Treatment Outcome
Unrelated Donors