Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a monogenic disorder that affects 100,000 African Americans and millions of people worldwide. Intra-erythrocytic polymerization of sickle hemoglobin (HbS) promotes erythrocyte sickling, impaired rheology, ischemia and hemolysis, leading to the development of progressive liver injury in SCD. Liver resident macrophages and monocytes are known to enable the clearance of HbS, however, the role of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) in HbS clearance and liver injury in SCD remains unknown. Using real-time intravital (in vivo) imaging in the mice liver as well as flow cytometric analysis and confocal imaging of primary human LSECs, we show for the first time that liver injury in SCD is associated with accumulation of HbS and iron in the LSECs, leading to LSEC senescence. Hb uptake by LSECs was mediated by micropinocytosis. Hepatic monocytes were observed to attenuate LSECsenescence by accelerating HbS clearance in the liver of SCD mice, however, this protection was impaired in P-selectin-deficient SCD mice secondary to reduced monocyte recruitment in the liver. These findings are the first to suggest that LSECs contribute to HbS clearance and HbS induced LSEC-senescence promotes progressive liver injury in SCD mice. Our results provide a novel insight into the pathogenesis of hemolysis induced chronic liver injury in SCD caused by LSEC senescence. Identifying the regulators of LSEC mediated HbS clearance may lead to new therapies to prevent the progression of liver injury in SCD.
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