Erythropoietin deficiency and inhibition of erythropoiesis in renal insufficiency

Kidney Int. 1984 Feb;25(2):437-44. doi: 10.1038/ki.1984.36.


The relative importance of erythropoietin (Ep) and inhibition of erythropoiesis in the anemia of chronic renal insufficiency has been investigated. Sixty patients with varying degrees of renal insufficiency, 40 normal subjects and 40 patients with anemia and normal renal function, were studied. Erythroid (CFU-E) and granulocytic (CFU-GM) progenitor cell colony formation were assayed in fetal mouse liver and human bone marrow cultures, respectively. Erythropoietin was measured by radioimmunoassay. Hematocrit and plasma creatinine concentration correlated with the degree of serum inhibition of CFU-E formation (r = 0.69, P less than 0.001, and r = 0.62, P less than 0.001, respectively). Serum erythropoietin levels in patients with renal insufficiency (34.4 +/- 6.7 mU/ml) were slightly higher than normal values (23.1 +/- 0.98 mU/ml), but showed no relationship to plasma creatinine, hematocrit, or inhibition of CFU-E formation. In contrast, serum erythropoietin concentrations increased exponentially as the hematocrit decreased below 32% (r = 0.61, P less than 0.001), and CFU-E formation was stimulated by serum in anemia patients with normal renal function. Studies of granulopoiesis showed uremic sera supported in vitro CFU-GM growth more efficiently than sera from normal subjects. These results suggest that inhibition of erythroid, but not granulocytic, progenitor cell formation, in addition to a relative erythropoietin deficiency, are the primary factors responsible for the anemia of chronic renal failure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia / blood
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Erythropoiesis*
  • Erythropoietin / blood
  • Erythropoietin / deficiency*
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Granulocytes / cytology
  • Hematocrit
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / blood*
  • Liver / cytology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Radioimmunoassay


  • Erythropoietin
  • Creatinine