Sickle cell disease (SCD) is caused by a monogenic mutation of the b-globin gene and affects millions of people worldwide. SCD is associated with sustained hemolytic anemia, vasoocclusion, ischemia-reperfusion injury, oxidative tissue damage, inflammatory cell activation, and systemic endothelial dysfunction. The transcription factor Nrf2 coordinates the expression of a wide variety of genes encoding antioxidant, detoxification, and metabolic enzymes. Nrf2 participates in suppressing proinflammatory cytokines and organ protection in SCD. However, little is known regarding the mechanisms by which Nrf2 ameliorates SCD pathology or how some cells respond to Nrf2 stimuli to alleviate SCD pathology. Here, we asked whether monocytes/granulocytes and/or endothelial cells are particularly critical in alleviating the pathology of SCD. By targeting these cells with a Cre recombinase system, we generated SCD::Keap1F/F::LysM-Cre and Tie1-Cre mice with constitutive Nrf2 activation in monocytes/granulocytes and endothelial cells, respectively. Analyses of SCD::Keap1F/F::LysM-Cre and SCD::Keap1F/F::Tie1-Cre mice revealed significantly reduced inflammation, along with decreased white blood cell counts and lower Tnfa and Il1b expression in the lungs. Notably, SCD::Keap1F/F::LysM-Cre mice exhibited reduced heme distribution in the liver, consistent with a decrease in the damaged areas. Vascular function in SCD::Keap1F/F::Tie1-Cre mice was significantly improved, with a 50% decrease in vascular leakage and low expression of the adhesion molecules Vcam1 and P-selectin. Thus, Nrf2 activation in monocytes/granulocytes and endothelial cells contributes differentially and cooperatively to the improvement of SCD pathology.
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