Dr Julie Makani

Research Area: Global Health
Technology Exchange: Medical statistics
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Genetics & Genomics
Keywords: Sickle Cell Disease, Genetics, Haematology and Malaria
Web Links:

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), is the single most important genetic cause of childhood mortality world-wide. Although SCD is essentially an African problem, where over 90% of affected individuals are born, virtually no systematic studies have been conducted and there are limited data on even the most basic issues, such as the common complications and the current mortality. The research group has established a systematic framework for prospective studies in Tanzania and they have recruited an active cohort of 1,600 SCD patients, which is one of the largest in Africa. The aim is to describe the clinical spectrum of SCD in E Africa by defining the major causes of morbidity and mortality, in order to determine the most appropriate interventions to be introduced in Africa. This study will also allow better understanding of the molecular, genetic and environmental mechanisms determining disease course and severity in Africa.

Due to its molecular basis, SCD presents great opportunities for integrating clinical, epidemiological, patho-physiological and genetic research. However, the fundamental problems limiting health care, training and research in Africa include lack of infrastructure and low critical mass of scientists and health care professionals. This has led to collaboration to support training programmes in Haematology and Blood transfusion in Tanzania with the intention of developing sustainable human resource capacity (pre-service and continuing professional training) in order to get adequate well-trained, knowledgeable people, with their own scientific and clinical capabilities to participate and contribute to sustainable health care solutions.

Julie is a Clinical Research Fellow in the Nuffield Department of Medicine and is based in the Department of Haematology and Blood Transfusion at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (www.muchs.ac.tz) which is the main clinical, academic and research centre in Tanzania.

Name Department Institution Country
Dr Sharon Cox London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Charles Newton Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Professor Fenella Kirkham FRCP Institute of Child Health, University College London United Kingdom
Professor Swee Lay Thein Guys, Kings and St Thomas School of Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Ephata Kaaya Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences Tanzania
Prof David Roberts (RDM) Nuffield Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences Oxford University, John Radcliffe Hospital United Kingdom
Dr Jeffrey Barrett Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute United Kingdom
Dr Ines Barroso Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute United Kingdom
Professor Bob W Snow Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Nairobi Kenya
Professor Andrew Prentice London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine United Kingdom
Khadija Malima KEMRI Wellcome Programme / University of Oxford Kenya
Professor Simon Hay Zoology University of Oxford Kenya
Bernard Davies University College London United Kingdom
Saidi H, Smart LR, Kamugisha E, Ambrose EE, Soka D, Peck RN, Makani J. 2016. Complications of sickle cell anaemia in children in Northwestern Tanzania. Hematology, 21 (4), pp. 248-256. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Tanzania has the third highest birth rate of sickle cell anaemia (SCA) in Africa, but few studies describe severity of complications or available treatments, especially in Northwest Tanzania around Lake Victoria where the sickle gene is most prevalent. This is a report of the spectrum of clinical disease and range of interventions available at Bugando Medical Centre (Bugando) in Northwest Tanzania in Africa. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was carried out in Bugando between 1 August 2012 and 30 September 2012. Children (<15 years old) with SCA attending Bugando were sequentially enrolled. A trained research assistant completed a Swahili questionnaire with the parent or guardian of each participant concerning demographic information, clinical features of disease, and treatments received. RESULTS: Among the 124 participants enrolled, the median age was 6 years (interquartile range [IQR] 4-8.5), and only 13 (10.5%) were < 3 years old. Almost all participants (97.6%) had a prior history of a vaso-occlusive episode, 83 (66.9%) had prior acute chest syndrome, and 21 (16.9%) had prior stroke. In the preceding 12 months, 120 (96.8%) had been hospitalized, and a vaso-occlusive episode was the most common reason for hospitalization (35.5%). Prescriptions for folic acid (92.7%) and malaria prophylaxis (84.7%) were common, but only one had received a pneumococcal vaccine, and none had received hydroxyurea or prophylactic penicillin. CONCLUSION: Children with SCA receiving care in Tanzania are diagnosed late, hospitalized frequently, and have severe complications. Opportunities exist to improve care through wider access to screening and diagnosis as well as better coordination of comprehensive care.

Urio F, Lyimo M, Mtatiro SN, Cox SE, Mmbando BP, Makani J. 2016. High prevalence of individuals with low concentration of fetal hemoglobin in F-cells in sickle cell anemia in Tanzania. Am J Hematol, 91 (8), pp. E323-E324. | Read more

Makani J, Roberts DJ. 2016. Hematology in Africa. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am, 30 (2), pp. 457-475. | Show Abstract | Read more

This review of hematology in Africa highlights areas of current practice and the immediate needs for development and clinical research. Acute hematological practice is dominated by anemia, sickle cell disease, and the need to provide a safe and rapidly available supply of blood. There is a growing need for specialist services for bleeding and coagulation, hematological malignancy, and palliative care. There are many areas of practice where straightforward measures could yield large gains in patient care. There is an urgent need for good clinical research to describe the epidemiology, natural history, and management of hematological diseases in Africa.

L'Esperance VS, Ekong T, Cox SE, Makani J, Newton CR, Soka D, Komba A, Kirkham FJ, Hill CM. 2016. Nocturnal haemoglobin oxygen desaturation in urban and rural East African paediatric cohorts with and without sickle cell anaemia: a cross-sectional study. Arch Dis Child, 101 (4), pp. 352-355. | Show Abstract | Read more

Low haemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO2) predicts complications in children with sickle cell anaemia (SCA) in the North but there are few data from Africa, where the majority of the patients reside. We measured daytime and overnight SpO2 in children with SCA in routine follow-up clinic, and controls without symptoms of SCA, comparing rural (Kilifi, Kenya) and urban (Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania) cohorts. Daytime SpO2 was lower in 65 Tanzanian children with SCA (TS; median 97 (IQR 94-100)%); p<0.0001) than in 113 Kenyan children with SCA (KS; 99 (98-100)%) and 20 Tanzanian controls (TC; 100 (98-100)%). Compared with 95 Kenyan children with SCA, in 54 Tanzanian children with SCA and 19 TC who returned for overnight oximetry, mean (KS 99.0 (96.7-99.8)%; TS 97.9 (95.4-99.3)%; TC 98.4 (97.5-99.1)%; p=0.01) and minimum nocturnal SpO2 (92 (86-95)%; 87 (78.5-91)%; 90 (83.5-93)% p=0.0001) were lower. The difference between children with SCA persisted after adjustment for haemoglobin (p=0.004). Urban Tanzanian children, with and without SCA, experience greater exposure to low daytime and night-time SpO2 compared with rural Kenyan children with SCA. Possible explanations include differences in the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnoea or asthma, alterations in the oxyhaemoglobin desaturation curve or cardiovascular compromise, for example, to shunting at atrial or pulmonary level secondary to increased pulmonary artery pressure. The fact that non-SCA siblings in the urban area are also affected suggests that environmental exposures, for example, air pollution, nutrition or physical exercise, may play a role. Further studies should determine aetiology and clinical relevance for the SCA phenotype in children resident in Africa.

Makani J, Soka D, Rwezaula S, Krag M, Mghamba J, Ramaiya K, Cox SE, Grosse SD. 2015. Health policy for sickle cell disease in Africa: Experience from Tanzania on interventions to reduce under-five mortality Tropical Medicine and International Health, 20 (2), pp. 184-187. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2014 The Authors.Tanzania has made considerable progress towards reducing childhood mortality, achieving a 57% decrease between 1980 and 2011. This epidemiological transition will cause a reduction in the contribution of infectious diseases to childhood mortality and increase in contribution from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Haemoglobinopathies are amongst the most common childhood NCDs, with sickle cell disease (SCD) being the commonest haemoglobinopathy in Africa. In Tanzania, 10 313 children with SCD under 5 years of age (U5) are estimated to die every year, contributing an estimated 7% of overall deaths in U5 children. Key policies that governments in Africa are able to implement would reduce mortality in SCD, focusing on newborn screening and comprehensive SCD care programmes. Such programmes would ensure that interventions such as prevention of infections using penicillin plus prompt diagnosis and treatment of complications are provided to all individuals with SCD.

Makani J, Mgaya J, Balandya E, Msami K, Soka D, Cox SE, Komba AN, Rwezaula S et al. 2015. Bacteraemia in sickle cell anaemia is associated with low haemoglobin: a report of 890 admissions to a tertiary hospital in Tanzania. Br J Haematol, 171 (2), pp. 273-276. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacteraemia is a leading cause of morbidity in sickle cell anaemia (SCA), but information from studies in Africa is limited. We evaluated 890 admissions from 648 SCA patients at a tertiary hospital in Tanzania. Bacteraemia was present in 43 admissions (4·8%); isolates included Staphylococcus aureus (12/43; 28%), non-Typhi Salmonella (9/43; 21%), Streptococcus pneumoniae (3/43; 7%) and Salmonella Typhi (2/43; 5%). Compared to SCA patients without bacteraemia, SCA patients with bacteraemia had significantly lower haemoglobin [71 g/l vs. 62 g/l, odds ratio 0·72 (95% confidence interval 0·56-0·91), P < 0·01]. Further exploration is needed of the relationship between anaemia and bacterial infections in SCA in Africa.

Mmbando BP, Mgaya J, Cox SE, Mtatiro SN, Soka D, Rwezaula S, Meda E, Msaki E et al. 2015. Negative Epistasis between Sickle and Foetal Haemoglobin Suggests a Reduction in Protection against Malaria. PLoS One, 10 (5), pp. e0125929. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Haemoglobin variants, Sickle (HbS) and foetal (HbF) have been associated with malaria protection. This study explores epistatic interactions between HbS and HbF on malaria infection. METHODS: The study was conducted between March 2004 and December 2013 within the sickle cell disease (SCD) programme at Muhimbili National Hospital, Tanzania. SCD status was categorized into HbAA, HbAS and HbSS using hemoglobin electrophoresis and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). HbF levels were determined by HPLC. Malaria was diagnosed using rapid diagnostic test and/or blood film. Logistic regression and generalized estimating equations models were used to evaluate associations between SCD status, HbF and malaria. FINDINGS: 2,049 individuals with age range 0-70 years, HbAA 311(15.2%), HbAS 241(11.8%) and HbSS 1,497(73.1%) were analysed. At enrolment, malaria prevalence was significantly higher in HbAA 13.2% compared to HbAS 1.24% and HbSS 1.34% (p<0.001). Mean HbF was lower in those with malaria compared to those without malaria in HbAA (0.43% vs 0.82%) but was the reverse in HbSS (8.10% vs 5.59%). An increase in HbF was associated with a decrease in risk of malaria OR=0.50 (95%CI: 0.28, 0.90; p=0.021) in HbAA, whereas for HbSS the risk of malaria increased OR=2.94 (1.44, 5.98; p=0.003). A similar pattern was seen during multiple visits; HbAA OR=0.52 (0.34, 0.80; p=0.003) vs HbSS OR=2.01 (1.27, 3.23; p=0.003). CONCLUSION: Higher prevalence of malaria in HbAA compared to HbAS and HbSS confirmed the protective effect of HbS. Lower prevalence of malaria in HbAA with high HbF supports a protective effect of HbF. However, in HbSS, the higher prevalence of malaria with high levels of HbF suggests loss of malaria protection. This is the first epidemiological study to suggest a negative epistasis between HbF and HbS on malaria.

Mtatiro SN, Makani J, Mmbando B, Thein SL, Menzel S, Cox SE. 2015. Genetic variants at HbF-modifier loci moderate anemia and leukocytosis in sickle cell disease in Tanzania. Am J Hematol, 90 (1), pp. E1-E4. | Show Abstract | Read more

Fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is a recognized modulator of sickle cell disease (SCD) severity. HbF levels are strongly influenced by genetic variants at three major genetic loci, Xmn1-HBG2, HMIP-2, and BCL11A, but the effect of these loci on the hematological phenotype in SCD, has so far not been investigated. In a cohort of individuals with SCD in Tanzania (HbSS and HbS/β° thalassemia, n = 726, aged 5 or older), HbF levels were positively correlated with hemoglobin, red blood cell (RBC) indices, mean corpuscular volume (MCV), and mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), and negatively with white blood cell (WBC) and platelet counts (all P < 0.0001). We subsequently assessed the contribution of the three HbF modifier loci and detected diverse effects, including a reduction in anemia, leukocytosis, and thrombocytosis associated with certain HbF-promoting alleles. The presence of the 'T' allele at Xmn1-HBG2 led to a significant increase in hemoglobin (P = 9.8 × 10(-3) ) but no changes in cellular hemoglobin content. Xmn1-HBG2 'T' also has a weak effect decreasing WBC (P = 0.06) and platelet (P = 0.06) counts. The BCL11A variant (rs11886868-'C') increases hemoglobin (P = 2 × 10(-3) ) and one of the HBS1L-MYB variants decreases WBC values selectively (P = 2.3 × 10(-4) ). The distinct pattern of effects of each variant suggests that both, disease alleviation through increased HbF production, and 'pleiotropic' effects on blood cells, are involved, affecting a variety of pathways.

Makubi A, Hage C, Lwakatare J, Mmbando B, Kisenge P, Lund LH, Rydén L, Makani J. 2015. Prevalence and prognostic implications of anaemia and iron deficiency in Tanzanian patients with heart failure. Heart, 101 (8), pp. 592-599. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence, correlates and prognostic implications of anaemia and iron deficiency (ID) in patients with heart failure (HF) in Tanzania. METHOD: This was a cross-sectional and prospective observational study conducted at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Patients were ≥ 18 years of age, with HF defined according to the Framingham criteria. The primary outcome was anaemia and the secondary outcome was a composite of hospitalisation for HF or all-cause mortality. RESULTS: A total of 401 HF patients (median age 56 years, IQR 41-67 years; women 51%) were included. The prevalence of anaemia was 57%. The overall prevalence of ID was 49% distributed as 69% versus 21% in subjects with and without anaemia (p < 0.001). Normocytic anaemia was seen in 18% of the patients while none had macrocytic anaemia. The risk of having anaemia was positively associated with residency outside Dar es Salaam (OR 1.72 (95% CI 1.02 to 2.89); p = 0.038), atrial fibrillation (4.12 (1.60 to 10.61); p=0.003), LVEF < 45% (2.70 (1.57 to 4.67); p < 0.001) and negatively (ORs per unit decrease) with creatinine clearance (0.98 (0.97 to 0.99); p = 0.012) and total cholesterol (0.78 (0.63 to 0.98); p = 0.029). One-year survival free from a composite endpoint was 70%. The presence of ID anaemia increased the likelihood for an event (HR 2.67; 95% CI 1.39 to 5.07; p = 0.003), while anaemia without ID did not influence the risk. CONCLUSIONS: ID anaemia was common in Tanzanian patients with HF and was independently associated with the risk for hospitalisation or death.

Cox SE, Makani J, Walter G, Mtunguja S, Kamala BA, Ellins E, Newton CRJ, Kirkham FJ, Prentice AM, Halcox JP. 2014. Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food Supplements Improve Endothelial Function, Hemoglobin and Growth in Tanzanian Children with Sickle Cell Anaemia: The Vascular Function Intervention Study (V-FIT), a Random Order Crossover Trial BLOOD, 124 (21),

Bekele E, Bodmer WF, Bradman N, Craig IW, Makani J, Povey S, Rotimi C. 2014. Molecular genetics research in sub-Saharan Africa: how can the international community help? Hugo J, 8 (1), pp. 2. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Opportunities provided by rapidly increasing access to educational resources, clinical and epidemiological data, DNA collections, cheaper technology and financial investment, suggest that researchers in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa (SSAOSA) could now join the genomics revolution on equal terms with those in the West. FINDINGS: Current evidence, however, suggests that, in some cases, various factors may be compromising this development. One interpretation is that urgent practical problems, which may compromise motivation, aspiration and ambition, are blocking opportunity. CONCLUSIONS: Those wishing to help should support the SSAOSA scientists both at the level of extending collaboration networks and in stimulating academic leadership at national and institutional levels to ensure adequate resources are allocated. Members of organisations representing the international community of human geneticists, such as HUGO, have a significant responsibility in supporting such activities.

Makani J, Soka D, Rwezaula S, Krag M, Mghamba J, Ramaiya K, Cox SE, Grosse SD. 2015. Health policy for sickle cell disease in Africa: experience from Tanzania on interventions to reduce under-five mortality. Trop Med Int Health, 20 (2), pp. 184-187. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tanzania has made considerable progress towards reducing childhood mortality, achieving a 57% decrease between 1980 and 2011. This epidemiological transition will cause a reduction in the contribution of infectious diseases to childhood mortality and increase in contribution from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Haemoglobinopathies are amongst the most common childhood NCDs, with sickle cell disease (SCD) being the commonest haemoglobinopathy in Africa. In Tanzania, 10,313 children with SCD under 5 years of age (U5) are estimated to die every year, contributing an estimated 7% of overall deaths in U5 children. Key policies that governments in Africa are able to implement would reduce mortality in SCD, focusing on newborn screening and comprehensive SCD care programmes. Such programmes would ensure that interventions such as prevention of infections using penicillin plus prompt diagnosis and treatment of complications are provided to all individuals with SCD.

Menzel S, Rooks H, Zelenika D, Mtatiro SN, Gnanakulasekaran A, Drasar E, Cox S, Liu L et al. 2014. Global Genetic Architecture of an Erythroid Quantitative Trait Locus, HMIP-2 Annals of Human Genetics, 78 (6), pp. 434-451. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/University College London.HMIP-2 is a human quantitative trait locus affecting peripheral numbers, size and hemoglobin composition of red blood cells, with a marked effect on the persistence of the fetal form of hemoglobin, HbF, in adults. The locus consists of multiple common variants in an enhancer region for MYB (chr 6q23.3), which encodes the hematopoietic transcription factor cMYB. Studying a European population cohort and four African-descended groups of patients with sickle cell anemia, we found that all share a set of two spatially separate HbF-promoting alleles at HMIP-2, termed "A" and "B." These typically occurred together ("A-B") on European chromosomes, but existed on separate homologous chromosomes in Africans. Using haplotype signatures for "A" and "B," we interrogated public population datasets. Haplotypes carrying only "A" or "B" were typical for populations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The "A-B" combination was frequent in European, Asian, and Amerindian populations. Both alleles were infrequent in tropical regions, possibly undergoing negative selection by geographical factors, as has been reported for malaria with other hematological traits. We propose that the ascertainment of worldwide distribution patterns for common, HbF-promoting alleles can aid their further genetic characterization, including the investigation of gene-environment interaction during human migration and adaptation.

Makubi A, Hage C, Lwakatare J, Kisenge P, Makani J, Rydén L, Lund LH. 2014. Contemporary aetiology, clinical characteristics and prognosis of adults with heart failure observed in a tertiary hospital in Tanzania: the prospective Tanzania Heart Failure (TaHeF) study. Heart, 100 (16), pp. 1235-1241. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to describe the contemporary aetiology, clinical characteristics and mortality and its predictors in heart failure (HF) in Tanzania. METHODS: Design; Prospective observational study. Setting; Cardiovascular Center of the Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Patients ≥18 years of age with HF defined by the Framingham criteria. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: All-cause mortality. RESULTS: Among 427 included patients, 217 (51%) were females and the mean (SD) age was 55 (17) years. HF aetiologies included hypertension (45%), cardiomyopathy (28%), rheumatic heart disease (RHD) (12%) and ischaemic heart disease (9%). Concurrent atrial fibrillation (AF), clinically significant anaemia, diabetes, tuberculosis and HIV were found in 16%, 12%, 12%, 3% and 2%, respectively, while warfarin was used in 3% of the patients. The mortality rate, 22.4 per 100 person-years over a median follow-up of 7 months, was independently associated with AF, HR 3.4 (95% CI 1.6 to 7.0); in-patient 3.2 (1.5 to 6.8); anaemia 2.3 (1.2 to 4.5); pulmonary hypertension 2.1 (1.1 to 4.2) creatinine clearance 0.98 (0.97 to 1.00) and lack of education 2.3 (1.3 to 4.2). CONCLUSIONS: In HF in Tanzania, patients are younger than in the developed world, but aetiologies are becoming more similar, with hypertension becoming more and RHD less important. Predictors of mortality possible to intervene against are anaemia, AF and lack of education.

Cox SE, Makani J, Soka D, L'Esperence VS, Kija E, Dominguez-Salas P, Newton CRJ, Birch AA, Prentice AM, Kirkham FJ. 2014. Haptoglobin, alpha-thalassaemia and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase polymorphisms and risk of abnormal transcranial Doppler among patients with sickle cell anaemia in Tanzania British Journal of Haematology, 165 (5), pp. 699-706. | Show Abstract | Read more

Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography measures cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFv) of basal intracranial vessels and is used clinically to detect stroke risk in children with sickle cell anaemia (SCA). Co-inheritance in SCA of alpha-thalassaemia and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) polymorphisms is reported to associate with high CBFv and/or risk of stroke. The effect of a common functional polymorphism of haptoglobin (HP) is unknown. We investigated the effect of co-inheritance of these polymorphisms on CBFv in 601 stroke-free Tanzanian SCA patients aged <24 years. Homozygosity for alpha-thalassaemia 3·7 deletion was significantly associated with reduced mean CBFv compared to wild-type (β-coefficient -16·1 cm/s, P = 0·002) adjusted for age and survey year. Inheritance of 1 or 2 alpha-thalassaemia deletions was associated with decreased risk of abnormally high CBFv, compared to published data from Kenyan healthy control children (Relative risk ratio [RRR] = 0·53 [95% confidence interval (CI):0·35-0·8] & RRR = 0·43 [95% CI:0·23-0·78]), and reduced risk of abnormally low CBFv for 1 deletion only (RRR = 0·38 [95% CI:0·17-0·83]). No effects were observed for G6PD or HP polymorphisms. This is the first report of the effects of co-inheritance of common polymorphisms, including the HP polymorphism, on CBFv in SCA patients resident in Africa and confirms the importance of alpha-thalassaemia in reducing risk of abnormal CBFv. © 2014 The Authors. British Journal of Haematology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Brousse V, Makani J, Rees DC. 2014. Management of sickle cell disease in the community. BMJ, 348 (mar10 11), pp. g1765. | Read more

Cited:

23

Scopus

Matovu E, Bucheton B, Chisi J, Enyaru J, Hertz-Fowler C, Koffi M, Macleod A, Mumba D et al. 2014. Enabling the genomic revolution in Africa Science, 344 (6190), pp. 1346-1348. | Read more

Mtatiro SN, Singh T, Rooks H, Mgaya J, Mariki H, Soka D, Mmbando B, Msaki E et al. 2014. Genome wide association study of fetal hemoglobin in sickle cell anemia in Tanzania. PLoS One, 9 (11), pp. e111464. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is an important modulator of sickle cell disease (SCD). HbF has previously been shown to be affected by variants at three loci on chromosomes 2, 6 and 11, but it is likely that additional loci remain to be discovered. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1,213 SCA (HbSS/HbSβ0) patients in Tanzania. Genotyping was done with Illumina Omni2.5 array and imputation using 1000 Genomes Phase I release data. Association with HbF was analysed using a linear mixed model to control for complex population structure within our study. We successfully replicated known associations for HbF near BCL11A and the HBS1L-MYB intergenic polymorphisms (HMIP), including multiple independent effects near BCL11A, consistent with previous reports. We observed eight additional associations with P<10(-6). These associations could not be replicated in a SCA population in the UK. CONCLUSIONS: This is the largest GWAS study in SCA in Africa. We have confirmed known associations and identified new genetic associations with HbF that require further replication in SCA populations in Africa.

Menzel S, Rooks H, Zelenika D, Mtatiro SN, Gnanakulasekaran A, Drasar E, Cox S, Liu L et al. 2014. Global genetic architecture of an erythroid quantitative trait locus, HMIP-2. Ann Hum Genet, 78 (6), pp. 434-451. | Show Abstract | Read more

HMIP-2 is a human quantitative trait locus affecting peripheral numbers, size and hemoglobin composition of red blood cells, with a marked effect on the persistence of the fetal form of hemoglobin, HbF, in adults. The locus consists of multiple common variants in an enhancer region for MYB (chr 6q23.3), which encodes the hematopoietic transcription factor cMYB. Studying a European population cohort and four African-descended groups of patients with sickle cell anemia, we found that all share a set of two spatially separate HbF-promoting alleles at HMIP-2, termed "A" and "B." These typically occurred together ("A-B") on European chromosomes, but existed on separate homologous chromosomes in Africans. Using haplotype signatures for "A" and "B," we interrogated public population datasets. Haplotypes carrying only "A" or "B" were typical for populations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The "A-B" combination was frequent in European, Asian, and Amerindian populations. Both alleles were infrequent in tropical regions, possibly undergoing negative selection by geographical factors, as has been reported for malaria with other hematological traits. We propose that the ascertainment of worldwide distribution patterns for common, HbF-promoting alleles can aid their further genetic characterization, including the investigation of gene-environment interaction during human migration and adaptation.

Cox SE, Makani J, Soka D, L'Esperence VS, Kija E, Dominguez-Salas P, Newton CR, Birch AA, Prentice AM, Kirkham FJ. 2014. Haptoglobin, alpha-thalassaemia and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase polymorphisms and risk of abnormal transcranial Doppler among patients with sickle cell anaemia in Tanzania. Br J Haematol, 165 (5), pp. 699-706. | Show Abstract | Read more

Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography measures cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFv) of basal intracranial vessels and is used clinically to detect stroke risk in children with sickle cell anaemia (SCA). Co-inheritance in SCA of alpha-thalassaemia and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) polymorphisms is reported to associate with high CBFv and/or risk of stroke. The effect of a common functional polymorphism of haptoglobin (HP) is unknown. We investigated the effect of co-inheritance of these polymorphisms on CBFv in 601 stroke-free Tanzanian SCA patients aged <24 years. Homozygosity for alpha-thalassaemia 3·7 deletion was significantly associated with reduced mean CBFv compared to wild-type (β-coefficient -16·1 cm/s, P = 0·002) adjusted for age and survey year. Inheritance of 1 or 2 alpha-thalassaemia deletions was associated with decreased risk of abnormally high CBFv, compared to published data from Kenyan healthy control children (Relative risk ratio [RRR] = 0·53 [95% confidence interval (CI):0·35-0·8] & RRR = 0·43 [95% CI:0·23-0·78]), and reduced risk of abnormally low CBFv for 1 deletion only (RRR = 0·38 [95% CI:0·17-0·83]). No effects were observed for G6PD or HP polymorphisms. This is the first report of the effects of co-inheritance of common polymorphisms, including the HP polymorphism, on CBFv in SCA patients resident in Africa and confirms the importance of alpha-thalassaemia in reducing risk of abnormal CBFv.

Cox SE, Soka D, Kirkham FJ, Newton CR, Prentice AM, Makani J, Younoszai AK. 2014. Tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity and hospitalization in Tanzanian children with sickle cell anemia. Haematologica, 99 (1), pp. e1-e4. | Read more

Makani J, Ofori-Acquah SF, Nnodu O, Wonkam A, Ohene-Frempong K. 2013. Sickle cell disease: new opportunities and challenges in Africa. ScientificWorldJournal, 2013 pp. 193252. | Show Abstract | Read more

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common genetic causes of illness and death in the world. This is a review of SCD in Africa, which bears the highest burden of disease. The first section provides an introduction to the molecular basis of SCD and the pathophysiological mechanism of selected clinical events. The second section discusses the epidemiology of the disease (prevalence, morbidity, and mortality), at global level and within Africa. The third section discusses the laboratory diagnosis and management of SCD, emphasizing strategies that been have proven to be effective in areas with limited resources. Throughout the review, specific activities that require evidence to guide healthcare in Africa, as well as strategic areas for further research, will be highlighted.

Makubi AN, Meda C, Magesa A, Minja P, Mlalasi J, Salum Z, Kweka RE, Rwehabura J et al. 2012. Audit of clinical-laboratory practices in haematology and blood transfusion at Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania. Tanzan J Health Res, 14 (4), pp. 257-262. | Show Abstract | Read more

In Tanzania, there is paucity of data for monitoring laboratory medicine including haematology. This therefore calls for audits of practices in haematology and blood transfusion in order to provide appraise practice and devise strategies that would result in improved quality of health care services. This descriptive cross-sectional study which audited laboratory practice in haematology and blood transfusion at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) aimed at assessing the pre-analytical stage of laboratory investigations including laboratory request forms and handling specimen processing in the haematology laboratory and assessing the chain from donor selection, blood component processing to administration of blood during transfusion. A national standard checklist was used to audit the laboratory request forms (LRF), phlebotomists' practices on handling and assessing the from donor selection to administration 6f blood during transfusion. Both interview and observations were used. A total of 195 LRF were audited and 100% of had incomplete information such as patients' identification numbers, time sample ordered, reason for request, summary of clinical assessment and differential diagnoses. The labelling of specimens was poorly done by phlebotomists/clinicians in 82% of the specimens. Also 65% (132/202) of the blood samples delivered in the haematology laboratory did not contain the recommended volume of blood. There was no laboratory request form specific for ordering blood and there were no guidelines for indication of blood transfusion in the wards/ clinics. The blood transfusion laboratory section was not participating in external quality assessment and the hospital transfusion committee was not in operation. It is recommended that a referral hospital like MNH should have a transfusion committee to provide an active forum to facilitate communication between those involved with transfusion, monitor, coordinate and audit blood transfusion practices as per national guidelines.

Cox SE, L'Esperance V, Makani J, Soka D, Prentice AM, Hill CM, Kirkham FJ. 2012. Sickle cell anemia: iron availability and nocturnal oximetry. J Clin Sleep Med, 8 (5), pp. 541-545. | Show Abstract | Read more

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that low iron availability, measured as transferrin saturation, is associated with low nocturnal hemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) in children with homozygous sickle cell anemia (SCA; hemoglobin SS). METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study of Tanzanian children with SCA who were not receiving regular blood transfusions. Thirty-two children (16 boys) with SCA (mean age 8.0, range 3.6-15.3 years) underwent motion-resistant nocturnal oximetry (Masimo Radical) and had steady state serum transferrin saturation and hematological indices assessed. RESULTS: Higher transferrin saturation, adjusted for age and α-thalassemia deletion, was associated with lower nocturnal mean SpO(2) (p = 0.013, r(2) = 0.41), number of SpO(2) dips/h > 3% from baseline (p = 0.008, r(2) = 0.19) and with min/h with SpO(2) < 90% (p = 0.026 r(2) = 0.16). Transferrin saturation < 16% (indicative of iron deficiency) was associated with a 2.2% higher nocturnal mean SpO(2). CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to our hypothesis, higher iron availability, assessed by transferrin saturation, is associated with nocturnal chronic and intermittent hemoglobin oxygen desaturation in SCA. Whether these associations are causal and are driven by hypoxia-inducible factor and hepcidin-mediated upregulation of demand for iron warrants further investigation.

Cox SE, Makani J, Komba AN, Soka D, Newton CR, Kirkham FJ, Prentice AM. 2011. Global arginine bioavailability in Tanzanian sickle cell anaemia patients at steady-state: a nested case control study of deaths versus survivors. Br J Haematol, 155 (4), pp. 522-524. | Read more

Makani J, Cox SE, Soka D, Komba AN, Oruo J, Mwamtemi H, Magesa P, Rwezaula S et al. 2011. Mortality in sickle cell anemia in Africa: a prospective cohort study in Tanzania. PLoS One, 6 (2), pp. e14699. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization has declared Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA) a public health priority. There are 300,000 births/year, over 75% in Africa, with estimates suggesting that 6 million Africans will be living with SCA if average survival reaches half the African norm. Countries such as United States of America and United Kingdom have reduced SCA mortality from 3 to 0.13 per 100 person years of observation (PYO), with interventions such as newborn screening, prevention of infections and comprehensive care, but implementation of interventions in African countries has been hindered by lack of locally appropriate information. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence and factors associated with death from SCA in Dar-es-Salaam. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A hospital-based cohort study was conducted, with prospective surveillance of 1,725 SCA patients recruited from 2004 to 2009, with 209 (12%) lost to follow up, while 86 died. The mortality rate was 1.9 (95%CI 1.5, 2.9) per 100 PYO, highest under 5-years old [7.3 (4.8-11.0)], adjusting for dates of birth and study enrollment. Independent risk factors, at enrollment to the cohort, predicting death were low hemoglobin (<5 g/dL) [3.8 (1.8-8.2); p = 0.001] and high total bilirubin (≥102 µmol/L) [1.7 (1.0-2.9); p = 0.044] as determined by logistic regression. CONCLUSIONS: Mortality in SCA in Africa is high, with the most vulnerable period being under 5-years old. This is most likely an underestimate, as this was a hospital cohort and may not have captured SCA individuals with severe disease who died in early childhood, those with mild disease who are undiagnosed or do not utilize services at health facilities. Prompt and effective treatment for anemia in SCA is recommended as it is likely to improve survival. Further research is required to determine the etiology, pathophysiology and the most appropriate strategies for management of anemia in SCA.

Cox SE, Makani J, Komba AN, Soka D, Newton CR, Kirkham FJ, Prentice AM. 2011. Global arginine bioavailability in Tanzanian sickle cell anaemia patients at steady-state: A nested case control study of deaths versus survivors British Journal of Haematology, 155 (4), pp. 522-524. | Read more

Cox SE, Makani J, Fulford AJ, Komba AN, Soka D, Williams TN, Newton CR, Marsh K, Prentice AM. 2011. Nutritional status, hospitalization and mortality among patients with sickle cell anemia in Tanzania. Haematologica, 96 (7), pp. 948-953. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Reduced growth is common in children with sickle cell anemia, but few data exist on associations with long-term clinical course. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of malnutrition at enrollment into a hospital-based cohort and whether poor nutritional status predicted morbidity and mortality within an urban cohort of Tanzanian sickle cell anemia patients. DESIGN AND METHODS: Anthropometry was conducted at enrollment into the sickle cell anemia cohort (n=1,618; ages 0.5-48 years) and in controls who attended screening (siblings, walk-ins and referrals) but who were found not to have sickle cell anemia (n=717; ages 0.5-64 years). Prospective surveillance recorded hospitalization at Muhimbili National Hospital and mortality between March 2004 and September 2009. RESULTS: Sickle cell anemia was associated with stunting (OR=1.92, P<0.001, 36.2%) and wasting (OR=1.66, P=0.002, 18.4%). The greatest growth deficits were observed in adolescents and in boys. Independent of age and sex, lower hemoglobin concentration was associated with increased odds of malnutrition in sickle cell patients. Of the 1,041 sickle cell anemia patients with a body mass index z-score at enrollment, 92% were followed up until September 2009 (n=908) or death (n=50). Body mass index and weight-for-age z-score predicted hospitalization (hazard ratio [HZR]=0.90, P=0.04 and HZR=0.88, P=0.02) but height-for-age z-score did not (HZR=0.93, NS). The mortality rate of 2.5 per 100 person-years was not associated with any of the anthropometric measures. CONCLUSIONS: In this non-birth-cohort of sickle cell anemia with significant associated undernutrition, wasting predicted an increased risk of hospital admission. Targeted nutritional interventions should prioritize treatment and prevention of wasting.

Makani J, Menzel S, Nkya S, Cox SE, Drasar E, Soka D, Komba AN, Mgaya J et al. 2011. Genetics of fetal hemoglobin in Tanzanian and British patients with sickle cell anemia. Blood, 117 (4), pp. 1390-1392. | Show Abstract | Read more

Fetal hemoglobin (HbF, α(2)γ(2)) is a major contributor to the remarkable phenotypic heterogeneity of sickle cell anemia (SCA). Genetic variation at 3 principal loci (HBB cluster on chromosome 11p, HBS1L-MYB region on chromosome 6q, and BCL11A on chromosome 2p) have been shown to influence HbF levels and disease severity in β-thalassemia and SCA. Previous studies in SCA, however, have been restricted to populations from the African diaspora, which include multiple genealogies. We have investigated the influence of these 3 loci on HbF levels in sickle cell patients from Tanzania and in a small group of African British sickle patients. All 3 loci have a significant impact on the trait in both patient groups. The results suggest the presence of HBS1L-MYB variants affecting HbF in patients who are not tracked well by European-derived markers, such as rs9399137. Additional loci may be identified through independent genome-wide association studies in African populations.

McAuley CF, Webb C, Makani J, Macharia A, Uyoga S, Opi DH, Ndila C, Ngatia A, Scott JA, Marsh K, Williams TN. 2010. High mortality from Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children living with sickle cell anemia on the coast of Kenya. Blood, 116 (10), pp. 1663-1668. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although malaria is widely considered a major cause of death in young children born with sickle cell anemia (SCA) in sub-Saharan Africa, this is poorly quantified. We attempted to investigate this question through 4 large case-control analyses involving 7164 children living on the coast of Kenya. SCA was associated with an increased risk of admission to hospital both with nonmalaria diseases in general (odds ratio [OR] = 4.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.95-8.92; P < .001) and with invasive bacterial diseases in particular (OR = 8.73; 95% CI, 4.51-16.89; P < .001). We found no evidence for a strongly increased risk of either uncomplicated malaria (OR = 0.43; 95% CI, 0.09-2.10; P = .30) or malaria complicated by a range of well-described clinical features of severity (OR = 0.80; 95% CI, 0.25-2.51; P = .70) overall; nevertheless, mortality was considerably higher among SCA than non-SCA children hospitalized with malaria. Our findings highlight both the central role that malaria plays in the high early mortality seen in African children with SCA and the urgent need for better quantitative data. Meanwhile, our study confirms the importance of providing all children living with SCA in malaria-endemic areas with effective prophylaxis.

Makani J, Komba AN, Cox SE, Oruo J, Mwamtemi K, Kitundu J, Magesa P, Rwezaula S et al. 2010. Malaria in patients with sickle cell anemia: burden, risk factors, and outcome at the outpatient clinic and during hospitalization. Blood, 115 (2), pp. 215-220. | Show Abstract | Read more

Approximately 280,000 children are born with sickle cell anemia (SCA) in Africa annually, yet few survive beyond childhood. Falciparum malaria is considered a significant cause of this mortality. We conducted a 5-year prospective surveillance study for malaria parasitemia, clinical malaria, and severe malarial anemia (SMA) in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, between 2004 and 2009. We recorded 10,491 visits to the outpatient clinic among 1808 patients with SCA and 773 visits among 679 patients without SCA. Similarly, we recorded 691 hospital admissions among 497 patients with SCA and 2017 in patients without SCA. Overall, the prevalence of parasitemia was lower in patients with SCA than in patients without SCA both at clinic (0.7% vs 1.6%; OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.32-0.86; P = .008) and during hospitalization (3.0% vs 5.6%; OR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.25-0.94; P = .01). Furthermore, patients with SCA had higher rates of malaria during hospitalization than at clinic, the ORs being 4.29 (95% CI, 2.63-7.01; P < .001) for parasitemia, 17.66 (95% CI, 5.92-52.71; P < .001) for clinical malaria, and 21.11 (95% CI, 8.46-52.67; P < .001) for SMA. Although malaria was rare among patients with SCA, parasitemia during hospitalization was associated with both severe anemia and death. Effective treatment for malaria during severe illness episodes and further studies to determine the role chemoprophylaxis are required.

Williams TN, Uyoga S, Macharia A, Ndila C, McAuley CF, Opi DH, Mwarumba S, Makani J et al. 2009. Bacteraemia in Kenyan children with sickle-cell anaemia: a retrospective cohort and case-control study. Lancet, 374 (9698), pp. 1364-1370. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90% of children with sickle-cell anaemia die before the diagnosis can be made. The causes of death are poorly documented, but bacterial sepsis is probably important. We examined the risk of invasive bacterial diseases in children with sickle-cell anaemia. METHODS: This study was undertaken in a rural area on the coast of Kenya, with a case-control approach. We undertook blood cultures on all children younger than 14 years who were admitted from within a defined study area to Kilifi District Hospital between Aug 1, 1998, and March 31, 2008; those with bacteraemia were defined as cases. We used two sets of controls: children recruited by random sampling in the same area into several studies undertaken between Sept 1, 1998, and Nov 30, 2005; and those born consecutively within the area between May 1, 2006, and April 30, 2008. Cases and controls were tested for sickle-cell anaemia retrospectively. FINDINGS: We detected 2157 episodes of bacteraemia in 38 441 admissions (6%). 1749 of these children with bacteraemia (81%) were typed for sickle-cell anaemia, of whom 108 (6%) were positive as were 89 of 13 492 controls (1%). The organisms most commonly isolated from children with sickle-cell anaemia were Streptococcus pneumoniae (44/108 isolates; 41%), non-typhi Salmonella species (19/108; 18%), Haemophilus influenzae type b (13/108; 12%), Acinetobacter species (seven of 108; 7%), and Escherichia coli (seven of 108; 7%). The age-adjusted odds ratio for bacteraemia in children with sickle-cell anaemia was 26.3 (95% CI 14.5-47.6), with the strongest associations for S pneumoniae (33.0, 17.4-62.8), non-typhi Salmonella species (35.5, 16.4-76.8), and H influenzae type b (28.1, 12.0-65.9). INTERPRETATION: The organisms causing bacteraemia in African children with sickle-cell anaemia are the same as those in developed countries. Introduction of conjugate vaccines against S pneumoniae and H influenzae into the childhood immunisation schedules of African countries could substantially affect survival of children with sickle-cell anaemia. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, UK.

Sadarangani M, Makani J, Komba AN, Ajala-Agbo T, Newton CR, Marsh K, Williams TN. 2009. An observational study of children with sickle cell disease in Kilifi, Kenya. Br J Haematol, 146 (6), pp. 675-682. | Show Abstract | Read more

Globally, sickle cell disease (SCD) has its highest prevalence and worst prognosis in sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, relatively few studies describe the clinical characteristics of children with SCD in this region. We conducted a prospective observational study of children with SCD attending a specialist out-patient clinic in Kilifi, Kenya. A total of 124 children (median age 6.3 years) were included in the study. Splenomegaly was present in 41 (33%) subjects and hepatomegaly in 25 (20%), both being common in all age groups. A positive malaria slide was found at 6% of clinic visits. The mean haemoglobin concentration was 73 g/l, compared to 107 g/l in non-SCD controls (P < 0.001). Liver function tests were elevated; plasma bilirubin concentrations were 46 micromol/l and aspartate aminotransferase was 124 iu/l. Forty-eight (39%) children were admitted to hospital and two died. Children with SCD in Kilifi have a similar degree of anaemia and liver function derangement to patients living in developed countries, but splenomegaly persists into later childhood. The prevalence of malaria was lower than expected given the prevalence in the local community. This study provides valuable data regarding the clinical characteristics of children living with SCD in a rural setting in East Africa.

Komba AN, Makani J, Sadarangani M, Ajala-Agbo T, Berkley JA, Newton CR, Marsh K, Williams TN. 2009. Malaria as a cause of morbidity and mortality in children with homozygous sickle cell disease on the coast of Kenya. Clin Infect Dis, 49 (2), pp. 216-222. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: To date, it has been widely assumed that malaria is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) in malaria-endemic countries, and as a result, malarial prophylaxis is commonly recommended. Nevertheless, few data are available that support this practice. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective analysis of the data collected prospectively from children aged 0-13 years who were admitted to Kilifi District Hospital during the period from July 1998 through June 2005. We studied the prevalence, clinical features, and outcome of malarial infections in these children, stratified by SCD status. RESULTS: Although we estimated the prevalence of SCD in children to be only 0.8% (71 of 8531 children) during the period from August 2006 through September 2008 in the community surrounding the hospital, 555 (1.6%) of 34,529 children admitted to the hospital during the study period (i.e., from July 1998 through June 2005) were children with SCD; in fact, a total of 309 children with SCD were admitted 555 times. The prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia was lower among children with SCD than it was among children without SCD (86 [15.6%] of 551 children vs. 13,835 [41.3%] of 33,500 children; P < .001). Similarly, among those infected with P. falciparum parasites, the mean parasite density was significantly lower among children with SCD than it was among children without SCD (2205 vs. 23,878 parasites/microL; P < .001). Fourteen (16.3%) of 86 parasitemic patients with SCD had features consistent with severe malaria, compared with 3424 (24.7%) of 13,835 parasitemic patients without SCD (odds ratio, 0.59; P < .07). We found no association between malarial parasitemia and death. CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence to support the conclusion that the risk of malaria is higher among children with SCD than it is among children without SCD in a rural area on the coast of Kenya. Further studies should be undertaken to help policy makers develop appropriate guidelines regarding malarial prophylaxis for patients with SCD in malaria-endemic regions.

Jallow M, Teo YY, Small KS, Rockett KA, Deloukas P, Clark TG, Kivinen K, Bojang KA et al. 2009. Genome-wide and fine-resolution association analysis of malaria in West Africa. Nat Genet, 41 (6), pp. 657-665. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a genome-wide association (GWA) study of severe malaria in The Gambia. The initial GWA scan included 2,500 children genotyped on the Affymetrix 500K GeneChip, and a replication study included 3,400 children. We used this to examine the performance of GWA methods in Africa. We found considerable population stratification, and also that signals of association at known malaria resistance loci were greatly attenuated owing to weak linkage disequilibrium (LD). To investigate possible solutions to the problem of low LD, we focused on the HbS locus, sequencing this region of the genome in 62 Gambian individuals and then using these data to conduct multipoint imputation in the GWA samples. This increased the signal of association, from P = 4 × 10(-7) to P = 4 × 10(-14), with the peak of the signal located precisely at the HbS causal variant. Our findings provide proof of principle that fine-resolution multipoint imputation, based on population-specific sequencing data, can substantially boost authentic GWA signals and enable fine mapping of causal variants in African populations.

Makani J, Kirkham FJ, Komba A, Ajala-Agbo T, Otieno G, Fegan G, Williams TN, Marsh K, Newton CR. 2009. Risk factors for high cerebral blood flow velocity and death in Kenyan children with Sickle Cell Anaemia: role of haemoglobin oxygen saturation and febrile illness. Br J Haematol, 145 (4), pp. 529-532. | Show Abstract | Read more

High cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFv) and low haemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) predict neurological complications in sickle cell anaemia (SCA) but any association is unclear. In a cross-sectional study of 105 Kenyan children, mean CBFv was 120 +/- 34.9 cm/s; 3 had conditional CBFv (170-199 cm/s) but none had abnormal CBFv (>200 cm/s). After adjustment for age and haematocrit, CBFv > or =150 cm/s was predicted by SpO(2) < or = 95% and history of fever. Four years later, 10 children were lost to follow-up, none had suffered neurological events and 11/95 (12%) had died, predicted by history of fever but not low SpO(2). Natural history of SCA in Africa may be different from North America and Europe.

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Achidi EA, Agbenyega T, Allen S, Amodu O, Bojang K, Conway D, Corran P, Deloukas P et al. 2008. A global network for investigating the genomic epidemiology of malaria Nature, 456 (7223), pp. 732-737. | Show Abstract | Read more

Large-scale studies of genomic variation could assist efforts to eliminate malaria. But there are scientific, ethical and practical challenges to carrying out such studies in developing countries, where the burden of disease is greatest. The Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN) is now working to overcome these obstacles, using a consortial approach that brings together researchers from 21 countries. © 2008 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Chokshi DA, Thera MA, Parker M, Diakite M, Makani J, Kwiatkowski DP, Doumbo OK. 2007. Valid consent for genomic epidemiology in developing countries. PLoS Med, 4 (4), pp. e95. | Read more

Makani J, Williams TN, Marsh K. 2007. Sickle cell disease in Africa: burden and research priorities. Ann Trop Med Parasitol, 101 (1), pp. 3-14. | Show Abstract | Read more

Sickle cell disease (SCD) has recently been recognised as a problem of major public-health significance by the World Health Organization. Despite the fact that >70% of sufferers live in Africa, expenditure on the related care and research in the continent is negligible, and most advances in the understanding and management of this condition have been based on research conducted in the North. In order to target limited resources, African countries need to focus research and interventions on areas that will lead to the maximum impact. This review details the epidemiological and clinical background of SCD, with an emphasis on Africa, before identifying the research priorities that will provide the necessary evidence base for improving the management of African patients. Malaria, bacterial and viral infections and cerebrovascular accidents are areas in which further research may lead to a significant improvement in SCD-related morbidity and mortality. As patients with high concentrations of foetal haemoglobin (HbF) appear to be protected from all but mild SCD, the various factors and pharmacological agents that might increase HbF levels need to be assessed in Africa, as options for interventions that would improve quality of life and reduce mortality.

Herbert G, Ndiritu M, Idro R, Makani JB, Kitundu J. 2006. Analysis of the indications for routine lumbar puncture and results of cerebrospinal fluid examination in children admitted to the paediatric wards of two hospitals in East Africa. Tanzan Health Res Bull, 8 (1), pp. 7-10. | Show Abstract

Lumbar puncture (LP) is an important diagnostic tool for investigating neurological conditions/diseases. This study was carried out to compare the indications for lumbar puncture and findings of cerebrospinal fluid examination in children admitted to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania and Kilifi District Hospital (KDH) in Kenya. Records of all children admitted to the paediatric wards of the two hospitals from 1st November 2004 to 30th April 2005 with suspected central nervous system infections and had LPs performed were analysed. Overall, 8,741 paediatric admissions were recorded in the two hospitals (Muhimbili = 6,228; Kilifi = 2,513). Of these, 607 (6.9%) had a LP performed; 154 out 6,228 (2.5%) in MNH and 453 out of 2,513 (18.0%) in KDH. LPs were performed less frequently in Muhimbili than in Kilifi Hospital. The most common indications for LP at MNH were convulsions (62.5%), neck stiffness (14.3%) and prostration (17%), whereas at KDH were convulsions (56.3%), neck stiffness (7.3%) and prostration (22.1%). The bacterial isolates were rarely (23%) obtained on culture at both hospitals. Streptococcus pneumonaie and Salmonella species were the commonest causes of pyogenic meningitis. In conclusion, the rate of LP performance in the two hospitals is low. There is need therefore to improve the rates of LP and the isolation of bacterial pathogens from cerebrospinal fluid cultures. Other possible causes for meningitis such as viruses need to be investigated.

Ajala-Agbo T, Komba A, Makani J, Williams T, Marsh K, Newton C, Kirkham F. 2006. Spectrum of cerebral blood flow velocities measured by transcranial Doppler ultrasonography in children with sickle cell disease in Africa DEVELOPMENTAL MEDICINE AND CHILD NEUROLOGY, 48 pp. 13-14.

Makani J. 2004. Stroke in sickle cell disease in Africa: case report. East Afr Med J, 81 (12), pp. 657-659. | Show Abstract

Stroke, including asymptomatic cerebrovascular events, is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in sickle cell disease, occurring with an incidence of 10 to 25%. Extensive research has established that cerebral stenosis, involving the circle of Willis, is the most common mechanism in children. We report a child with sickle cell disease who presented with cortical blindness and right-sided hemiplegia. Computerised tomography of the brain revealed an infarct involving the left parietal region and extending to the occipital region. Stroke in SCD is multifactorial, but high-risk individuals can be identified by simple well-established strategies such as transcranial doppler ultrasonography. There are approaches for both primary and secondary interventions, which have been shown to be effective and need to be incorporated into management guidelines for SCD patients. Before schemes are recommended into health care policies, research in the appropriate setting is required.

Makani J, Matuja W, Liyombo E, Snow RW, Marsh K, Warrell DA. 2003. Admission diagnosis of cerebral malaria in adults in an endemic area of Tanzania: implications and clinical description. QJM, 96 (5), pp. 355-362. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Cerebral malaria is commonly diagnosed in adults in endemic areas in Africa, both in hospitals and in the community. This presents a paradox inconsistent with the epidemiological understanding that the development of immunity during childhood confers protection against severe disease in adult life. AIM: To establish the contribution of Plasmodium falciparum infection in adults admitted with neurological dysfunction in an endemic area, to assess the implications of an admission clinical diagnosis of 'cerebral malaria' on the treatment and clinical outcome, and to describe the clinical features of patients with malaria parasitaemia. DESIGN: Prospective observational study. METHODS: We studied adult patients admitted with neurological dysfunction to Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania from October 2000 to July 2001. A full blood count was done and serum creatinine, blood glucose and P. falciparum parasite load were measured. RESULTS: Of 199 patients (median age 34.6 years), 38% were diagnosed as 'cerebral malaria' on admission, but only 7.5% had detectable parasitaemia, giving a positive predictive value of 13.3%. Only 1% fulfilled the WHO criteria for cerebral malaria. The prevalence of parasitaemia (7.5%) was less than that observed in a group of asymptomatic controls (9.3%), but distribution of parasite densities was higher in the patients. Mortality was higher in patients with no parasitaemia (22.3%) than in those with parasitaemia (13%). DISCUSSION: Cerebral malaria was grossly overdiagnosed, resulting in unnecessary treatment and insufficient investigation of other possible diagnoses, which could lead to higher mortality. Extension of this misperception to the assessment of cause of death in community surveys may lead to an overestimation of the impact of malaria in adults.

Brousse V, Makani J, Rees DC. 2014. Management of sickle cell disease in the community. BMJ, 348 (mar10 11), pp. g1765. | Read more

Mtatiro SN, Singh T, Rooks H, Mgaya J, Mariki H, Soka D, Mmbando B, Msaki E et al. 2014. Genome wide association study of fetal hemoglobin in sickle cell anemia in Tanzania. PLoS One, 9 (11), pp. e111464. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is an important modulator of sickle cell disease (SCD). HbF has previously been shown to be affected by variants at three loci on chromosomes 2, 6 and 11, but it is likely that additional loci remain to be discovered. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1,213 SCA (HbSS/HbSβ0) patients in Tanzania. Genotyping was done with Illumina Omni2.5 array and imputation using 1000 Genomes Phase I release data. Association with HbF was analysed using a linear mixed model to control for complex population structure within our study. We successfully replicated known associations for HbF near BCL11A and the HBS1L-MYB intergenic polymorphisms (HMIP), including multiple independent effects near BCL11A, consistent with previous reports. We observed eight additional associations with P<10(-6). These associations could not be replicated in a SCA population in the UK. CONCLUSIONS: This is the largest GWAS study in SCA in Africa. We have confirmed known associations and identified new genetic associations with HbF that require further replication in SCA populations in Africa.

Cox SE, Soka D, Kirkham FJ, Newton CR, Prentice AM, Makani J, Younoszai AK. 2014. Tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity and hospitalization in Tanzanian children with sickle cell anemia. Haematologica, 99 (1), pp. e1-e4. | Read more

Makani J, Ofori-Acquah SF, Nnodu O, Wonkam A, Ohene-Frempong K. 2013. Sickle cell disease: new opportunities and challenges in Africa. ScientificWorldJournal, 2013 pp. 193252. | Show Abstract | Read more

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common genetic causes of illness and death in the world. This is a review of SCD in Africa, which bears the highest burden of disease. The first section provides an introduction to the molecular basis of SCD and the pathophysiological mechanism of selected clinical events. The second section discusses the epidemiology of the disease (prevalence, morbidity, and mortality), at global level and within Africa. The third section discusses the laboratory diagnosis and management of SCD, emphasizing strategies that been have proven to be effective in areas with limited resources. Throughout the review, specific activities that require evidence to guide healthcare in Africa, as well as strategic areas for further research, will be highlighted.

Makubi AN, Meda C, Magesa A, Minja P, Mlalasi J, Salum Z, Kweka RE, Rwehabura J et al. 2012. Audit of clinical-laboratory practices in haematology and blood transfusion at Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania. Tanzan J Health Res, 14 (4), pp. 257-262. | Show Abstract | Read more

In Tanzania, there is paucity of data for monitoring laboratory medicine including haematology. This therefore calls for audits of practices in haematology and blood transfusion in order to provide appraise practice and devise strategies that would result in improved quality of health care services. This descriptive cross-sectional study which audited laboratory practice in haematology and blood transfusion at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) aimed at assessing the pre-analytical stage of laboratory investigations including laboratory request forms and handling specimen processing in the haematology laboratory and assessing the chain from donor selection, blood component processing to administration of blood during transfusion. A national standard checklist was used to audit the laboratory request forms (LRF), phlebotomists' practices on handling and assessing the from donor selection to administration 6f blood during transfusion. Both interview and observations were used. A total of 195 LRF were audited and 100% of had incomplete information such as patients' identification numbers, time sample ordered, reason for request, summary of clinical assessment and differential diagnoses. The labelling of specimens was poorly done by phlebotomists/clinicians in 82% of the specimens. Also 65% (132/202) of the blood samples delivered in the haematology laboratory did not contain the recommended volume of blood. There was no laboratory request form specific for ordering blood and there were no guidelines for indication of blood transfusion in the wards/ clinics. The blood transfusion laboratory section was not participating in external quality assessment and the hospital transfusion committee was not in operation. It is recommended that a referral hospital like MNH should have a transfusion committee to provide an active forum to facilitate communication between those involved with transfusion, monitor, coordinate and audit blood transfusion practices as per national guidelines.

Cox SE, L'Esperance V, Makani J, Soka D, Prentice AM, Hill CM, Kirkham FJ. 2012. Sickle cell anemia: iron availability and nocturnal oximetry. J Clin Sleep Med, 8 (5), pp. 541-545. | Show Abstract | Read more

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that low iron availability, measured as transferrin saturation, is associated with low nocturnal hemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) in children with homozygous sickle cell anemia (SCA; hemoglobin SS). METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study of Tanzanian children with SCA who were not receiving regular blood transfusions. Thirty-two children (16 boys) with SCA (mean age 8.0, range 3.6-15.3 years) underwent motion-resistant nocturnal oximetry (Masimo Radical) and had steady state serum transferrin saturation and hematological indices assessed. RESULTS: Higher transferrin saturation, adjusted for age and α-thalassemia deletion, was associated with lower nocturnal mean SpO(2) (p = 0.013, r(2) = 0.41), number of SpO(2) dips/h > 3% from baseline (p = 0.008, r(2) = 0.19) and with min/h with SpO(2) < 90% (p = 0.026 r(2) = 0.16). Transferrin saturation < 16% (indicative of iron deficiency) was associated with a 2.2% higher nocturnal mean SpO(2). CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to our hypothesis, higher iron availability, assessed by transferrin saturation, is associated with nocturnal chronic and intermittent hemoglobin oxygen desaturation in SCA. Whether these associations are causal and are driven by hypoxia-inducible factor and hepcidin-mediated upregulation of demand for iron warrants further investigation.

Makani J, Cox SE, Soka D, Komba AN, Oruo J, Mwamtemi H, Magesa P, Rwezaula S et al. 2011. Mortality in sickle cell anemia in Africa: a prospective cohort study in Tanzania. PLoS One, 6 (2), pp. e14699. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization has declared Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA) a public health priority. There are 300,000 births/year, over 75% in Africa, with estimates suggesting that 6 million Africans will be living with SCA if average survival reaches half the African norm. Countries such as United States of America and United Kingdom have reduced SCA mortality from 3 to 0.13 per 100 person years of observation (PYO), with interventions such as newborn screening, prevention of infections and comprehensive care, but implementation of interventions in African countries has been hindered by lack of locally appropriate information. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence and factors associated with death from SCA in Dar-es-Salaam. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A hospital-based cohort study was conducted, with prospective surveillance of 1,725 SCA patients recruited from 2004 to 2009, with 209 (12%) lost to follow up, while 86 died. The mortality rate was 1.9 (95%CI 1.5, 2.9) per 100 PYO, highest under 5-years old [7.3 (4.8-11.0)], adjusting for dates of birth and study enrollment. Independent risk factors, at enrollment to the cohort, predicting death were low hemoglobin (<5 g/dL) [3.8 (1.8-8.2); p = 0.001] and high total bilirubin (≥102 µmol/L) [1.7 (1.0-2.9); p = 0.044] as determined by logistic regression. CONCLUSIONS: Mortality in SCA in Africa is high, with the most vulnerable period being under 5-years old. This is most likely an underestimate, as this was a hospital cohort and may not have captured SCA individuals with severe disease who died in early childhood, those with mild disease who are undiagnosed or do not utilize services at health facilities. Prompt and effective treatment for anemia in SCA is recommended as it is likely to improve survival. Further research is required to determine the etiology, pathophysiology and the most appropriate strategies for management of anemia in SCA.

Cox SE, Makani J, Komba AN, Soka D, Newton CR, Kirkham FJ, Prentice AM. 2011. Global arginine bioavailability in Tanzanian sickle cell anaemia patients at steady-state: A nested case control study of deaths versus survivors British Journal of Haematology, 155 (4), pp. 522-524. | Read more

Cox SE, Makani J, Fulford AJ, Komba AN, Soka D, Williams TN, Newton CR, Marsh K, Prentice AM. 2011. Nutritional status, hospitalization and mortality among patients with sickle cell anemia in Tanzania. Haematologica, 96 (7), pp. 948-953. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Reduced growth is common in children with sickle cell anemia, but few data exist on associations with long-term clinical course. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of malnutrition at enrollment into a hospital-based cohort and whether poor nutritional status predicted morbidity and mortality within an urban cohort of Tanzanian sickle cell anemia patients. DESIGN AND METHODS: Anthropometry was conducted at enrollment into the sickle cell anemia cohort (n=1,618; ages 0.5-48 years) and in controls who attended screening (siblings, walk-ins and referrals) but who were found not to have sickle cell anemia (n=717; ages 0.5-64 years). Prospective surveillance recorded hospitalization at Muhimbili National Hospital and mortality between March 2004 and September 2009. RESULTS: Sickle cell anemia was associated with stunting (OR=1.92, P<0.001, 36.2%) and wasting (OR=1.66, P=0.002, 18.4%). The greatest growth deficits were observed in adolescents and in boys. Independent of age and sex, lower hemoglobin concentration was associated with increased odds of malnutrition in sickle cell patients. Of the 1,041 sickle cell anemia patients with a body mass index z-score at enrollment, 92% were followed up until September 2009 (n=908) or death (n=50). Body mass index and weight-for-age z-score predicted hospitalization (hazard ratio [HZR]=0.90, P=0.04 and HZR=0.88, P=0.02) but height-for-age z-score did not (HZR=0.93, NS). The mortality rate of 2.5 per 100 person-years was not associated with any of the anthropometric measures. CONCLUSIONS: In this non-birth-cohort of sickle cell anemia with significant associated undernutrition, wasting predicted an increased risk of hospital admission. Targeted nutritional interventions should prioritize treatment and prevention of wasting.

Makani J, Menzel S, Nkya S, Cox SE, Drasar E, Soka D, Komba AN, Mgaya J et al. 2011. Genetics of fetal hemoglobin in Tanzanian and British patients with sickle cell anemia. Blood, 117 (4), pp. 1390-1392. | Show Abstract | Read more

Fetal hemoglobin (HbF, α(2)γ(2)) is a major contributor to the remarkable phenotypic heterogeneity of sickle cell anemia (SCA). Genetic variation at 3 principal loci (HBB cluster on chromosome 11p, HBS1L-MYB region on chromosome 6q, and BCL11A on chromosome 2p) have been shown to influence HbF levels and disease severity in β-thalassemia and SCA. Previous studies in SCA, however, have been restricted to populations from the African diaspora, which include multiple genealogies. We have investigated the influence of these 3 loci on HbF levels in sickle cell patients from Tanzania and in a small group of African British sickle patients. All 3 loci have a significant impact on the trait in both patient groups. The results suggest the presence of HBS1L-MYB variants affecting HbF in patients who are not tracked well by European-derived markers, such as rs9399137. Additional loci may be identified through independent genome-wide association studies in African populations.

McAuley CF, Webb C, Makani J, Macharia A, Uyoga S, Opi DH, Ndila C, Ngatia A, Scott JA, Marsh K, Williams TN. 2010. High mortality from Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children living with sickle cell anemia on the coast of Kenya. Blood, 116 (10), pp. 1663-1668. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although malaria is widely considered a major cause of death in young children born with sickle cell anemia (SCA) in sub-Saharan Africa, this is poorly quantified. We attempted to investigate this question through 4 large case-control analyses involving 7164 children living on the coast of Kenya. SCA was associated with an increased risk of admission to hospital both with nonmalaria diseases in general (odds ratio [OR] = 4.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.95-8.92; P < .001) and with invasive bacterial diseases in particular (OR = 8.73; 95% CI, 4.51-16.89; P < .001). We found no evidence for a strongly increased risk of either uncomplicated malaria (OR = 0.43; 95% CI, 0.09-2.10; P = .30) or malaria complicated by a range of well-described clinical features of severity (OR = 0.80; 95% CI, 0.25-2.51; P = .70) overall; nevertheless, mortality was considerably higher among SCA than non-SCA children hospitalized with malaria. Our findings highlight both the central role that malaria plays in the high early mortality seen in African children with SCA and the urgent need for better quantitative data. Meanwhile, our study confirms the importance of providing all children living with SCA in malaria-endemic areas with effective prophylaxis.

Makani J, Komba AN, Cox SE, Oruo J, Mwamtemi K, Kitundu J, Magesa P, Rwezaula S et al. 2010. Malaria in patients with sickle cell anemia: burden, risk factors, and outcome at the outpatient clinic and during hospitalization. Blood, 115 (2), pp. 215-220. | Show Abstract | Read more

Approximately 280,000 children are born with sickle cell anemia (SCA) in Africa annually, yet few survive beyond childhood. Falciparum malaria is considered a significant cause of this mortality. We conducted a 5-year prospective surveillance study for malaria parasitemia, clinical malaria, and severe malarial anemia (SMA) in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, between 2004 and 2009. We recorded 10,491 visits to the outpatient clinic among 1808 patients with SCA and 773 visits among 679 patients without SCA. Similarly, we recorded 691 hospital admissions among 497 patients with SCA and 2017 in patients without SCA. Overall, the prevalence of parasitemia was lower in patients with SCA than in patients without SCA both at clinic (0.7% vs 1.6%; OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.32-0.86; P = .008) and during hospitalization (3.0% vs 5.6%; OR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.25-0.94; P = .01). Furthermore, patients with SCA had higher rates of malaria during hospitalization than at clinic, the ORs being 4.29 (95% CI, 2.63-7.01; P < .001) for parasitemia, 17.66 (95% CI, 5.92-52.71; P < .001) for clinical malaria, and 21.11 (95% CI, 8.46-52.67; P < .001) for SMA. Although malaria was rare among patients with SCA, parasitemia during hospitalization was associated with both severe anemia and death. Effective treatment for malaria during severe illness episodes and further studies to determine the role chemoprophylaxis are required.

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