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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Enhanced fetal hemoglobin production by phenylacetate and 4-phenylbutyrate in erythroid precursors derived from normal donors and patients with sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia.

In both sickle cell (SS) anemia and beta-thalassemia (beta-thal), an increase in fetal hemoglobin (HbF) ameliorates the clinical symptoms of the underlying disease. Several pharmacologic agents have been used to elevate HbF levels in adults; however, concerns regarding adverse effects of the prevailing drugs raise an urgent need for other agents capable of stimulating HbF production. We show here that sodium phenylacetate (NaPA) and its precursor, sodium 4-phenylbutyrate (NaPB), can enhance HbF production in cultured erythroid progenitor derived from normal donors and patients with SS anemia or beta-thal, when used at pharmacologic concentrations. Treatment resulted in (1) reduced cell proliferation, (2) elevated hemoglobin (Hb) content per cell (mean cellular Hb [MCH]), and (3) an increased proportion of HbF produced, associated with elevated levels of gamma-globin mRNA. Moreover, the active phenyl-fatty acids, with NaPA as a prototype, potentiated HbF induction by other drugs of clinical interest, including hydroxyurea (HU), sodium butyrate, and 5-azacytidine (5AzaC). Efficacy could be further enhanced by introducing chlorine substituents at the phenyl ring to increase drug lipophilicity. Our findings indicate that NaPA and NaPB, both already proven safe and effective in treatment of children with urea cycle disorders, might benefit also patients with severe hemoglobinopathies. The two-phase liquid culture procedure used in this study should prove valuable in further studies exploring the mechanisms of HbF induction by these agents, and might provide an assay to predict patient response in the clinical setting.[1]


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