Pure red cell aplasia induced only by intravenous administration of recombinant human erythropoietin

Acta Haematol. 2011;126(2):114-8. doi: 10.1159/000328041. Epub 2011 Jun 7.


Antibody (Ab)-mediated pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) is a rare but important side effect in patients with chronic kidney disease who receive recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO). Ab-mediated PRCA was first reported in the 1990s, and the incidence subsequently increased and reached a peak in 2001. After improvements in rhEPO products and the administration route, the incidence was reduced by 90%, and now Ab-mediated PRCA only develops in a limited number of patients who receive rhEPO subcutaneously for a long period. We describe here the clinical course of one such rare patient with Ab-mediated PRCA. The patient was a 70-year-old man with chronic renal failure secondary to diabetic nephropathy. He had not received rhEPO therapy before the initiation of hemodialysis. He started hemodialysis and began to receive rhEPO therapy intravenously. Three months later, his hemoglobin level started declining and he became transfusion dependent. A diagnosis of Ab-mediated PRCA was made by bone marrow examination and detection of anti-EPO Abs. He was successfully treated with cyclosporine and became independent of blood transfusions. This case is a reminder that vigilance is required regarding the development of Ab-mediated PRCA upon rhEPO therapy, regardless of the administration route.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / physiopathology
  • Erythropoietin / administration & dosage
  • Erythropoietin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Male
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Red-Cell Aplasia, Pure / etiology*
  • Red-Cell Aplasia, Pure / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • EPO protein, human
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin