Treatment with recombinant human erythropoietin increases antibody titers after hepatitis B vaccination in dialysis patients

Kidney Int. 1991 Jul;40(1):121-8. doi: 10.1038/ki.1991.189.


The effect of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) on the immune system of hemodialysis patients has been studied by evaluating their response to hepatitis B (HB) vaccination. Fifty hemodialysis patients were given four doses of 20 micrograms recombinant DNA hepatitis B vaccine (SKF) at an interval of 0, 1, 2 and 6 months. Thirty-seven patients could be evaluated at one year. Twelve of 15 (80%) of the rHuEPO treated patients and 12 of 22 (54%) of non-rHuEPO treated dialysis patients developed anti-HBs antibodies. At the time of maximum immune response (8 months), the geometric mean anti-HBs titers (mIU/ml +/- SEM) of responders and all patients were five times (224.0 +/- 5.9 vs. 41.7 +/- 1.5, P less than 0.001), and eight times (57.6 +/- 8.7 vs. 6.7 +/- 1.8, P less than 0.05), respectively, higher in rHuEPO treated patients than in patients not receiving the drug. High antibody response (greater than 100 mIU/ml) prevailed in the group of rHuEPO treated patients and was associated with a high helper/suppressor ratio. Discriminant multivariate analysis (P = 0.038) revealed the influence of treatment with rHuEPO (40%) and helper/suppressor ratio (31%) on antibody concentration, while age, gender, duration of dialysis and previous blood transfusions were similar in both patient groups. Although changes in lymphocyte subsets observed in rHuEPO treated patients may be the result of a reduced administration of blood transfusions, immune reactivity seems also to be directly affected by the drug.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiopathology
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Uremia / immunology
  • Vaccination*


  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin