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J Nephrol. 2008 Nov-Dec;21(6):861-70.

Italian randomized trial of hemoglobin maintenance to prevent or delay left ventricular hypertrophy in chronic kidney disease.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, Faculty of Medicine, University "Federico II" of Naples, Naples - Italy.



This study is part of a 3-country study testing whether normal levels of hemoglobin (Hgb) delay the progression of left ventricular (LV) growth in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients not on dialysis.


This was an open-label, randomized, multicenter, controlled trial conducted in 27 tertiary-care hospitals in Italy. Treated subjects (n=46) received epoetin-alpha (EPO-alpha) to maintain Hgb levels in the range 12-14 g/dL. Control subjects (n=49) were not treated unless their Hgb decreased to 9.0 g/dL. Primary outcome was LV mass index (MI) change after 24 months. Subcutaneous EPO-alpha was withdrawn in Europe and the study prematurely terminated; therefore, a 12-month analysis was carried out.


Mean age was 57 years (38% were women, 18% with diabetes, 76% taking ACEI or ARB and 22% statins). EPO-alpha median final dose was 2,000 IU/week. Hgb significantly increased (12.4 -/+ 1.1 g/L) for the treatment group and decreased for controls (11.3 -/+ 1.3 g/L; p<0.001). The intention-to-treat analysis was conducted in 78 patients. Mean baseline LVMI for treated patients and controls was 109.5 -/+ 23 g/m2 and 108.7 -/+ 29 g/m2, respectively. LVMI did not change among controls, whereas it decreased slightly, though not significantly, among treated patients.


The current Italian trial was negative, maybe due to its limitations: lack of power, 1-year follow-up and normal LVMI in some patients at start; however, it was consistent with other published studies. Thus, it is unlikely that targeting hemoglobin in the normal range for CKD patients is of benefit.

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