Cellular mechanism of resistance to erythropoietin

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1995;10 Suppl 6:27-30. doi: 10.1093/ndt/10.supp6.27.


Erythropoiesis is controlled by different regulators. Interleukin 3, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and stem cell factor play regulatory functions in the early steps of erythropoiesis. Erythropoietin (Epo) is the main factor which acts positively on the last steps of the production of erythrocytes in mammals. Epo is specific for the erythroid progenitor cells and has only little effect on other cells. The target cells for Epo are the erythroid progenitors (BFUe and CFUe). Epo acts on these progenitors through surface receptors specific for Epo. Epo induces the proliferation and differentiation of erythroid progenitors leading finally to reticulocytes. During this process, certain conditions are required to permit this differentiation: progenitors must be present in sufficient numbers, the bone marrow environment must be normal, and nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin B12 and particularly iron must be available. Elemental iron is an absolute requirement for adequate haemoglobin formation. Indeed, in a normal adult, without any stimulation, the bone marrow synthesizes 4 x 10(14) molecules of haemoglobin per second, each molecule containing four atoms of iron, which roughly corresponds to 20 mg iron. On the other hand, erythropoiesis is negatively regulated by several cytokines. These are macrophage-derived cytokines, including tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). All these factors are elevated in the inflammatory state and are implicated in the pathogenesis of anaemia of chronic disease. TNF-alpha has an inhibitory effect on erythroid progenitors either directly or mediated by interferon-beta (INF-beta). IL-1 inhibits erythropoiesis in vivo in mice and in vitro in humans.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia / drug therapy
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Drug Resistance
  • Erythroid Precursor Cells / drug effects*
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Erythropoiesis / physiology
  • Erythropoietin / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Uremia / complications


  • Cytokines
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Iron