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Med Hypotheses. 2013 Dec;81(6):1155-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.09.030. Epub 2013 Oct 1.

The role of erythropoietin and erythropoietin receptor in malignant laryngeal tumors.

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Department for Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Clinical Hospital Center Rijeka, Croatia. Electronic address:


Erythropoietin (Epo) is a glycoprotein hormone responsible for erythropoiesis. Its effect is realized by binding erythropoietin receptor (EpoR) expressed on erythroid progenitor cells. Hypoxia is the main stimulus for the secretion of erythropoietin. Anemia is an independent negative prognostic factor for survival in patients with malignant diseases. Synthetic forms of erythropoietin are used in clinical oncology practice to increase the level of hemoglobin. As well as endogenous they can bind to EpoR. Considering the fact that most effects of synthetic Epo are negative, the role of endogenous Epo/EpoR has become an extremely important issue. The authors do not agree on most items related to the effects of exogenous Epo and EpoR in patients with head and neck carcinomas. We are investigating the expression of Epo/EpoR in the tissue of malignant laryngeal carcinoma. Our hypothesis is that less differentiated laryngeal carcinomas will have a higher level of endogenous Epo/EpoR expression. Therefore, in patients with positive Epo/EpoR we expect shorter survival and poorer locoregional disease control. We anticipate that our hypothesis may help to provide the role of endogenous Epo/EpoR in patients with malignant tumors of the larynx. If the assumptions of this study are confirmed, the patients with laryngeal carcinomas whose tumor cells express Epo/EpoR should not be considered for the treatment of anemia with recombinant erythropoietin in any case. We also point out that our research will expand the knowledge of the biology of laryngeal tumor cells and that the results could be utilized as basic knowledge in development of future therapeutic strategies.

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