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Are you African American? Are you a healthy person without sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait? You may be eligible for a research study to understand why some patients with sickle cell disease have abnormal blood vessel function. Compensation is provided.


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a major health problem worldwide. More than 300,000 babies are born with SCD yearly around the world. A common problem in SCD is vasculopathy, or abnormalities with blood veseels, which can worsen long-term organ function and affect oxygen delivery to tissues like muscles and brain. Some studies have suggested that some patients with SCD have a lot of vasculopathy, while others do not, but we currently do not have a good understanding of how common vasculopathy is in SCD, who gets it, and how to measure it. 

The purpose of this study is to compare blood vessel (or vascular) function in individuals with SCD compared to individuals without SCD (healthy individuals or those with sickle cell trait), as well as identify reliable ways to detect and measure it, and what factors may make an individual more or less likely to develop vasculopathy. 


Eligible participants:

  • Are African American
  • Are 18 years old or older 
  • Are without sickle cell disease or sickle cell traits
  • Are able to communicate in English


If the screening shows that you are eligible, you will be asked to be seated for at least 20 minutes to rest in a private, temperature-controlled clinic or research room. You will have your vitals taken, and we will go over your demographic information and medical history. You will also get your blood drawn either in this room or in a laboratory on the UPMC clinic. This part will last around 1 hour. 

After attaching the sensors and electrodes, we will begin recording using the different microiontophoresis (MI) and near-infrared (NIR) devices. MI uses FDA approved drugs called vasodilators, which increase blood flow, and a tiny electrical current to test your blood vessel function. The electrical current is used to deliver the vasodilator, and sensors detect blood flow. The vasodilator drugs will only be used on the skin and will not have any systemic effects. NIR technologies refers to imaging methods that use near-infrared light and sensors on your skin to measure certain properties of tissues, such as blood flow and how much oxygen your tissue is receiving. 

You will be asked to rest your arm on an armrest and keep your arm still during the recording periods. If MI is done, you will be asked to remain in the room for 20 minutes after the end of drug delivery with the MI device to monitor for any side effects. This part may last 1-3 hours, depending on which tests are done. 

IRB: STUDY22050118B
- Characterization of Vascular Function and Hemorheology in Sickle Cell Disease

PHONE NUMBER: 1-866-438-8230
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Visit https://pittplusme.org/study/2643 and click on "I'm Interested" or call 1-866-438-8230.