Treatment of anemia in inflammatory bowel disease with recombinant human erythropoietin: results in three patients

Gastroenterology. 1993 Jun;104(6):1828-31. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(93)90666-z.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is often associated with anemia. Of 85 patients with IBD, 28 were anemic and had an inadequately low plasma erythropoietin (EPO) concentration. Three patients with a long-standing history of IBD and refractory chronic anemia (hemoglobin values < 10 g/dL, plasma EPO concentrations below 100 mU/mL) were treated with recombinant human EPO, which was administered subcutaneously three times per week at a dose of 200-300 U/kg of body weight. Bone marrow biopsy specimens taken before therapy showed slightly decreased erythropoiesis with a shift of erythroid precursors toward more immature stages. EPO treatment resulted in a marked increase in hemoglobin values in all 3 patients. Bone marrow biopsies after EPO therapy showed quantitatively and qualitatively normal erythropoiesis in all of them. Correction of anemia was followed by improved well-being, and all patients were able to cope much better with their IBD. In all three patients, there was an increase in body weight and their Karnofsky index improved. After a complete workup and exclusion of any other cause for anemia, erythropoietin treatment, although expensive, should be considered in patients with IBD and refractory anemia.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Refractory / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Refractory / etiology
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications*
  • Crohn Disease / complications*
  • Erythropoietin / blood
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin