Anaemia of chronic diseases: Pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment

Med Clin (Barc). 2021 Mar 12;156(5):235-242. doi: 10.1016/j.medcli.2020.07.035. Epub 2020 Dec 24.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Anaemia of chronic disease (ACD) is generated by the activation of the immune system by autoantigens, microbial molecules or tumour antigens resulting in the release of cytokines that cause an elevation of serum hepcidin, hypoferraemia, suppression of erythropoiesis, decrease in erythropoietin (EPO) and shortening of the half-life of red blood cells. Anaemia is usually normocytic and normochromic, which is the most prevalent after iron deficiency anaemia, and it is the most frequent in the elderly and in hospitalized patients. If the anaemia is severe, the patient's quality of life deteriorates, and it can have a negative impact on survival. Treatment is aimed at controlling the underlying disease and correcting anaemia. Sometimes intravenous iron and EPO have been used, but the therapeutic future is directed against hepcidin, which is the final target of anaemia.

Keywords: Antagonistas hepcidina; Ferroportin; Ferroportina; Hepcidin; Hepcidin antagonists; Hepcidina; Interleucina-6; Interleukin-6; Iron metabolism; Metabolismo hierro.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anemia* / diagnosis
  • Anemia* / etiology
  • Anemia* / therapy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Erythropoietin*
  • Hepcidins
  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Quality of Life


  • Hepcidins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Iron