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J Vet Intern Med. 2012 Mar-Apr;26(2):363-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2011.00864.x. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

The use of darbepoetin to stimulate erythropoiesis in anemia of chronic kidney disease in cats: 25 cases.

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Internal Medicine Department, The Animal Medical Center, New York, NY 10065, USA.



Anemia is present in 30-65% in cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and few long-term treatment options exist. Darbepoetin is effective in treating anemia of kidney disease in humans and may be used in cats.


To evaluate the use of darbepoetin, a recombinant analog of human erythropoietin, to stimulate erythropoiesis, and to effectively treat anemia of kidney disease in cats.


Twenty-five of 66 cats that received ≥ 2 doses of darbepoetin at the Animal Medical Center between January 2005 and December 2009 were included in this study.


Cats were included in the study if they received darbepoetin and follow-up data were available for at least 56 days and had CKD as a primary clinical diagnosis. Cats were excluded if they were treated with darbepoetin but did not have kidney disease. Response to treatment was defined as reaching or exceeding a target packed red blood cell volume or hematocrit of 25%.


Fourteen of 25 cats responded. Thirteen of those 14 cats received a dosage of 1 μg/kg/wk or higher. Presumptive adverse effects included vomiting, hypertension, seizures, and fever.


Darbepoetin is effective for treatment of anemia of kidney disease in cats. Pure red cell aplasia appears to be less common with darbepoetin than with epoetin usage.

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