[Erythropoietin: indications and measurement]

Ann Biol Clin (Paris). 2009 Sep-Oct;67(5):505-15. doi: 10.1684/abc.2009.0356.
[Article in French]


Erythropoietin (EPO) is the principal haematopoietic growth factor of the red blood cell line. Its major role is to stimulate the red blood cell production. EPO synthesis by peritubular cells in the kidney is regulated by oxygen concentration and must lead adaptation of the organism to face many different physiological situations. An imbalance can lead either to anaemia or polycythemia. Synthetic EPO, so-called recombinant, has definitively changed the treatment in the anaemia of chronic renal failure and regularly find new indications, legal (anaemia of cancer, anaemia of chronic inflammatory syndromes, myelodysplastic syndromes, neurology, cardiology...) or illegal (doping substance in sport). This article reviews the physiology, the role and the indications of EPO in clinical routine practice and define why and how EPO should be measured. We also focus on the analytical requirements for serum EPO concentration determination, especially in the differential diagnosis of polycythemias (secondary polycythemia/Polycythemia Vera).

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / drug therapy
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Doping in Sports
  • Erythropoietin / pharmacology
  • Erythropoietin / physiology*
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Polycythemia / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Substance Abuse Detection


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin