Dimeric erythropoietin fusion protein with enhanced erythropoietic activity in vitro and in vivo

Blood. 2001 Jun 15;97(12):3776-82. doi: 10.1182/blood.v97.12.3776.


High doses of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEpo) are required for the treatment of chronic anemia. Thus, it is clear that therapy for chronic anemia would greatly benefit from an erythropoietin derivative with increased erythropoietic activity rather than the native endogenous hormone. In this report, the activity of a human Epo-Epo dimer protein, obtained by recombinant technology, is described and compared with its Epo monomer counterpart produced under identical conditions. Although monomer Epo and dimer Epo-Epo had similar pharmacokinetics in normal mice, the increase in hematocrit value was greater with the dimer than with the monomer. Moreover, in clonogenic assays using CD34(+) human hematopoietic cells, the human dimer induced a 3- to 4-fold-greater proliferation of erythroid cells than the monomer. Controlled secretion of dimeric erythropoietin was achieved in beta-thalassemic mice by in vivo intramuscular electrotransfer of a mouse Epo-Epo plasmid containing the tetO element and of a plasmid encoding the tetracycline controlled transactivator tTA. Administration of tetracycline completely inhibited the expression of the mEpo dimer. On tetracycline withdrawal, expression of the Epo-Epo dimer resumed, thereby resulting in a large and sustained hematocrit increase in beta-thalassemic mice. No immunologic response against the dimer was apparent in mice because the duration of the hematocrit increase was similar to that observed with the monomeric form of mouse erythropoietin. (Blood. 2001;97:3776-3782)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dimerization
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Erythropoietin / genetics
  • Erythropoietin / metabolism*
  • Erythropoietin / pharmacokinetics
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Injections
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / pharmacokinetics
  • Transfection
  • beta-Thalassemia / drug therapy


  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Erythropoietin