Children with sickle cell disease, including those without evidence for cerebral infarcts, are at increased risk for cognitive deficits that can contribute to difficulties in academic and social functioning. Chronic inflammatory processes are endemic to sickle cell disease and are apparent in common comorbidities including asthma. Cytokines mediating inflammatory processes can influence cognition. The authors examined the relationship between plasma levels of cytokines commonly associated with asthma and cognitive functioning using standardized neuropsychological measures in 25 children with sickle cell disease with normal magnetic resonance imaging studies of the brain. Children with sickle cell disease performed significantly below the normative mean on tests of cognitive function. Pearson correlations indicated significant negative relations between cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-8, and IL-13) and standardized tests of executive function (r = -.54 to -.74). Preliminary evidence suggests an association between cytokine levels and executive function in children with sickle cell disease, indicating a potential role for inflammatory processes in cognitive outcomes in these children.
© The Author(s) 2014.