Spleen histology in children with sickle cell disease and hereditary spherocytosis: hints on the disease pathophysiology

Marco Pizzi, Fabio Fuligni, Luisa Santoro, Elena Sabattini, Martina Ichino, Rita De Vito, Pietro Zucchetta, Raffaella Colombatti, Laura Sainati, Piergiorgio Gamba, Rita Alaggio

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Hereditary spherocytosis (HS) and sickle cell disease (SCD) are associated with splenomegaly and spleen dysfunction in pediatric patients. Scant data exist on possible correlations between spleen morphology and function in HS and SCD. This study aimed to assess the histologic and morphometric features of HS and SCD spleens, to get possible correlations with disease pathophysiology. In a large series of spleens from SCD, HS, and control patients, the following parameters were considered: (i) macroscopic features, (ii) lymphoid follicle (LF) density, (iii) presence of perifollicular marginal zones, (iv) presence of Gamna-Gandy bodies, (v) density of CD8-positive sinusoids, (vi) density of CD34-positive microvessels, (vii) presence/distribution of fibrosis and smooth muscle actin (SMA)-positive myoid cells, and (viii) density of CD68-positive macrophages. SCD and HS spleens had similar macroscopic features. SCD spleens had lower LF density and fewer marginal zones than did HS spleens and controls. SCD also showed lower CD8-positive sinusoid density, increased CD34-positive microvessel density and SMA-positive myoid cells, and higher prevalence of fibrosis and Gamna-Gandy bodies. HS had lower LF and CD8-positive sinusoid density than did controls. No significant differences were noted in red pulp macrophages. By multivariate analysis, most HS spleens clustered with controls, whereas SCD grouped separately. A multiparametric score could predict the degree of spleen changes irrespective of the underlying disease. In conclusion, SCD spleens display greater histologic effacement than HS, and SCD-related changes suggest impaired function due to vascular damage. These observations may contribute to guide the clinical management of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Pathology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 19 2016


  • Journal Article


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