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Diabet Med. 2002 Jan;19(1):65-9.

Erythropoietin response to hypoxia in patients with diabetic autonomic neuropathy and non-diabetic chronic renal failure.

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King's Diabetes Centre, King's College Hospital, London, UK.



An erythropoietin (EPO)-deficient anaemia is recognized in Type 1 diabetic patients with early nephropathy and symptomatic autonomic neuropathy (DN). The aim of this study was to determine whether the EPO response to hypoxia was deficient in order to clarify the mechanisms involved in this process.


Five Type 1 diabetic patients DN (age 39 (28-48) years (mean (range))) with EPO-deficient anaemia (haemoglobin, Hb 10.6 (9.5-12.0) g/dl, EPO 5.0 (3.2-6.5) IU/l) and early diabetic nephropathy (persistent proteinuria 1161.6 (130-2835) mg/day, serum creatinine 97.6 (63-123) micromol/l)) were compared with nine normal subjects (age 31 (24-39) years, Hb 13.4 (11.8-15.7) g/dl, EPO 7.6 (5.6-10.3) IU/l) and four patients with non-diabetic advanced chronic renal failure RF (proteinuria 2157.5 (571-4578) mg/day, serum creatinine 490.2 (406-659) micromol/l, Hb 10.3 (9.0-11.3) g/dl, EPO 4.6 (2.9-8.5) IU/l). The subjects were exposed to 6 h of hypoxia (inspired oxygen 11.6-12.6%) by breathing a gas mixture via a hood. Hourly serum EPO levels were measured.


All groups showed a rise in EPO production after 2 h. The diabetic DN group achieved a similar maximal response to the normal subjects at 6 h (EPO 17.3 +/-5.4 vs. 17.8 +/-7.9 IU/l). The renal failure patients mounted an EPO response to hypoxia but at lower EPO levels.


Although the DN patients have inappropriately low EPO levels for the severity of their anaemia, they can mount an appropriate EPO response to moderate hypoxia. The mechanism underlying the EPO-deficient anaemia present in some diabetic patients remains unclear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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