Introduction: African-Americans (AA) with breast cancer continue to experience worse morbidity and mortality than white patients. In addition to barriers to care, an active area of investigation has been the etiology of the increased risk adverse events (AEs) related to chemotherapy. An emerging question is if sickle cell trait (i.e., heterozygotes for hemoglobin beta gene), present in an estimated 1 in 12 of the AA population, confers increased susceptibility to chemotherapy-related complications. We posit that conditions of high physiological stress might be manifest during systemic treatment with toxic agents resulting in alterations of red blood cells (RBCs). Using an experimental biomechanical model system, we hypothesized that RBCs from SCT carriers would be prone to increased adhesiveness after exposure to a common systemic anti-cancer agent used in breast cancer. Increased adhesiveness of RBCs can be a precipitating factor of blocked vasculature and subsequent sickling crises, potentially leading to AEs during treatment.

Methods: Our study testedex vivoRBCs from two groups of healthy female participants: 20 African-American sickle cell trait carriers (AA-SCT); and 15 white subjects with wild-type hemoglobin (W-WT). Isolated RBCs were treated with scaled Daunorubicin (DNR) doses. The unbinding forces between αvβ3 ligands and intercellular adhesion molecule-4 (ICAM-4) receptors are reported using the frequency distribution, which states the percentage of events whose unbinding forces are within each width of the bin. We then compared the median values of the forces measured in experiments without and with treatment for each drug. The collective frequency (CF%) is related to the population of active ICAM-4 receptors and is defined as the percentage of all unbinding events divided by the total number of measurements, which is 32 × 32 =1024 for each cell multiplied by the number of tested cells for each blood sample.

Results: For AA-SCT RBCs, pre-treatment baseline CF of active ICAM-4 receptors was 4.88 ± 0.87%, which was significantly increased after administration of DNR (13.13 ± 2.30%, p<0.0001). In contrast, treatment of W-WT RBCs held the CF of active ICAM-4 receptors at a comparable level as untreated RBCs (9.54 ± 1.48%; 7.47 ± 1.07%, p=0.50, respectively).

Conclusion: Our findings could support hypotheses for adhesion-related RBC clumping among AAs with SCT during systemic treatment with anti-neoplastic agents, and, putatively, resultant AEs. Given past studies showing African-American women with breast cancer have higher rates of self-withdrawal from treatment, further exploration with additional systemic agents are warranted. Our novel study is limited by a small sample size as well lack of potential confounding factors in analyses. Future studies are planned with additional agent(s) and AAs without SCT. Should it be confirmed that SCT carrier status predicts RBC alterations during systemic treatment for breast cancer, and are linked to subsequent adverse events, it could lead to precision treatment planning.

Disclosures

Andemariam:Novartis:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding;Hemanext:Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;Global Blood Therapeutics:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;Vertex:Honoraria;Imara:Research Funding;Emmaus:Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;bluebird bio:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;NovoNordisk:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;CRISPR/Vertex:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;CHNCT:Consultancy;Accordant:Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;Guidepoint:Honoraria;Sanofi Genzyme:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;Terumo BCT:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;Roche:Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;Cyclerion:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees;Pfizer:Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.