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Small Strokes in Sickle Cell Disease

About 40% of children with sickle cell disease develop small strokes visible by MRI, commonly referred to as silent cerebral infarcts. Some of these strokes are tiny, and fall in the size range of microinfarcts, a type of brain lesion that is very common in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Recent clinical studies suggest that microinfarcts are associated with greater cognitive decline, and may actually contribute to brain dysfunction.

In collaboration with the Hyacinth Lab at Emory University, we used in vivo imaging and histology to show that the Townes mouse model of sickle cell disease also develops pathology in small brain vessels and microinfarcts. This model will be very useful for understanding the origin of these small strokes and their impact on brain function.

This work was just accepted for publication in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. A preliminary version is available on Bioxriv.

Microinfarct (arrow) in a 13 month old Townes sickle cell mouse.