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Kidney Int. 2002 Apr;61(4):1537-44.

Randomized prospective comparison between erythropoietin and androgens in CAPD patients.

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  • 1Nephrology Service and Research Unit, Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.



Anemia and malnutrition are significant complications in peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients. Previous studies in hemodialysis have shown that androgens are effective as therapy for anemia; however, this has not been tested in a randomized prospective trial in PD patients. Furthermore, the anabolic properties of androgens may exert additional benefits on the nutritional status in this population.


Twenty-seven stable male patients over 50 years who were under maintenance continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) therapy were randomized to receive recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO; N = 14) or nandrolone decanoate (ND; 200 mg/week IM; N = 13) as therapy for anemia. The evolution of hematologic parameters and the impact on both nutritional anthropometric and biochemical variables were evaluated after six months of treatment.


Hemoglobin and hematocrit experienced similar increases in both groups: from 8.5 +/- 0.9 g/dL and 25.8 +/- 2.7% to 11.7 +/- 0.6 g/dL and 34.7 +/- 1.6% (P < 0.001) in patients receiving rHuEPO, and from 8.9 +/- 0.8 and 27 +/- 2.2% to 11.8 +/- 0.4 g/dL and 35.1 +/- 1.5% (P < 0.001) in subjects treated with ND. At the end of the study, out of the diverse nutritional variables included in this investigation, only weight and body mass index significantly increased in the rHuEPO group. Conversely, both anthropometric [weight, body mass index, triceps skinfold, mid-arm circumference (MAC) and mid-arm muscle circumference (MAMC)] and biochemical parameters (serum total proteins, albumin, prealbumin and transferrin) were significantly increased in patients treated with ND. In this group, serum urea nitrogen, urea net excretion and protein equivalent of nitrogen appearance significantly decreased. These facts, together with an increase in serum creatinine and no changes in dietary intake during the study, suggest a rise in muscle mass related to an anabolic effect of nandrolone decanoate. Interestingly, serum levels of insulin-like growth factor type 1 (IGF-1) increased in patients on the androgen group compared to subjects treated with rHuEPO. Moreover, there was a positive and significant correlation between the rise in IGF-1 concentrations and the increase in hemoglobin, hematocrit, MAC and MAMC.


Androgens therapy improved the anemia in elderly male CAPD patients in a similar manner to that observed with rHuEPO. Furthermore, compared with rHuEPO, androgen administration was associated with beneficial effects on nutritional status. The mechanism of action of androgens on hematologic and nutritional parameters might be mediated, at least in part, by IGF-1.

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