Does erythropoietin always win?

Curr Med Chem. 2014 Mar;21(7):849-54. doi: 10.2174/09298673113206660270.


The synthesis of recombinant human erythropoietin has marked a turning point in the treatment of anaemia secondary to chronic kidney disease. However, the potentially fatal cardio- and cerebrovascular complications of the intake of high-doses of ESAs (erythropoiesis-stimulating agents), such as those observed in athletes who resort to doping, reason out the ever-prevalent debate concerning the balance between the risks and benefits of ESA administration for therapeutic purposes. Hence, there is still a discussion as to what values haemoglobin should ideally be maintained at. Additional concerns arise in cancer patients due to the ability of erythropoietin to act as an angiogenic and, in general, as a cell growth factor, because this might favour the progression of neoplastic disease. We summarized the prominent points of the latest guidelines on the management of anaemia in nephropathic patients, also identifying the possible risks that may result from the tendency to aim at too low haemoglobin levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Erythropoietin / genetics
  • Erythropoietin / metabolism
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / pathology
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin