Hydroxycarbamide treatment reduces transcranial Doppler velocity in the absence of transfusion support in children with sickle cell anaemia, elevated transcranial Doppler velocity, and cerebral vasculopathy: the EXTEND trial

EXpanding Treatment for Existing Neurological Disease (EXTEND) investigated whether hydroxycarbamide lowers transcranial Doppler (TCD) velocities in Jamaican children with sickle cell anaemia (SCA) and elevated TCD velocity with or without previous stroke. Forty-three children (age 2-17 years) with baseline maximum time-averaged mean velocity (TAMV) ≥ 170 cm/s were stratified into three risk categories based on treatment status and stroke history: Group 1 (no history of stroke, on hydroxycarbamide, n = 12); and Groups 2 (no stroke, no hydroxycarbamide, n = 21) and 3 (previous stroke, no hydroxycarbamide, n = 10). Open-label hydroxycarbamide at 20 mg/kg/day was commenced, with escalation to maximum tolerated dose (MTD) based on mild marrow suppression (average dose 25·4 ± 4·5 mg/kg/day). TCD was performed every six months with brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) at baseline and after 18-months of hydroxycarbamide. The maximum TAMV decreased significantly compared to baseline (24 ± 30 cm/s, P < 0·0001), with similar declines in all groups. Clinical stroke occurred in five children, one in Group 1, none in Group 2, and four in Group 3, P = 0·0032, comparing group incidence rates. Brain MRI/MRA was stable in children without clinical stroke. EXTEND documents the feasibility and benefits of hydroxycarbamide at MTD to lower TCD velocities and reduce stroke risk in children with SCA and no history of primary stroke in low-resource settings without transfusion management.
as reported in: Br J Haematol. 2021 Jul 22 [Epub ahead of print]