Anaemia of Chronic Disease: An In-Depth Review

Med Princ Pract. 2017;26(1):1-9. doi: 10.1159/000452104. Epub 2016 Sep 28.


Anaemia is the most common haematological disorder affecting humanity and is usually observed in chronic disease states such as non-specific anaemia, which may cause diagnostic difficulties. In chronically ill patients with anaemia, this has a negative impact on quality of life as well as survival. This paper aims at reviewing the pathogenesis of this form of anaemia with a view to suggesting future targets for therapeutic intervention. The ability to diagnose this disorder depends on the ability of the physician to correlate the possible clinical pathways of the underlying disease with the patients' ferrokinetic state. It is important to rule out iron deficiency and other causes of anaemia as misdiagnosis will in most cases lead to refractoriness to standard therapy. The cytokines and acute-phase proteins play important roles in the pathogenesis of anaemia of chronic disease. Alterations in the metabolism of iron via the molecule hepcidin and ferritin are largely responsible for the consequent anaemia. Concomitant iron deficiency might be present and could affect the diagnosis and therapeutic protocol. Treatment options involve the use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, blood transfusion, and iron supplementation, in addition to treating the underlying disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anemia* / complications
  • Anemia* / diagnosis
  • Anemia* / physiopathology
  • Anemia* / therapy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Erythropoiesis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / complications


  • Interleukin-6