Sickle cell treatment also protects kidney function

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published November 20, 2015

Key Takeaways

Hydroxyurea, a drug used to treat sickle cell disease, may also help protect patients’ kidney function, according to a study published November 20, 2015, in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Sickle cell disease can impact kidney function, and the earliest sign of kidney damage in affected patients is albuminuria. Hydroxyurea (HU) is one of the cornerstones of sickle cell disease treatment, but its effects on kidney function are unclear.

To determine the potential effects of HU on albuminuria, researchers studied 58 adults (mean age 35) with sickle cell disease who were starting HU therapy.

After 6 months of HU treatment (12-18 mg/kg per day), the patients’ kidney function improved significantly, as measured by urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio. This finding suggests the potential benefit of prescribing HU as soon as microalbuminuria appears, the authors advised.

“The findings offer further evidence, albeit not yet definitive, of a potential renal benefit of HU, and should strengthen arguments favoring its use in sickle cell disease for other indications and encouraging patient adherence to this drug,” said Pablo Bartolucci, MD, PhD, of the Sickle Cell Disease Center at Henri-Mondor University Hospital, in Créteil, France.

“Our preliminary results require additional larger, prospective, randomized, controlled trials to clearly demonstrate the positive effect of HU to reduce albuminuria levels and delay chronic kidney disease progression,” added Vincent Audard, MD, PhD, of Université Paris Est Créteil, in Créteil, France.

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