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Scand J Haematol. 1986 Sep;37(3):221-8.

Erythropoietin activity in the serum of beta thalassemic patients.


Serum erythropoietic activity was determined in 32 patients with beta thalassemia major and intermedia. Quantitation was performed by an in vitro bioassay using rabbit erythroid precursor cells (CFU-E) either by colony assay or by 3H-thymidine uptake. 20 polytransfused beta-thalassemic major patients had erythropoietic activity (mean 89.3 +/- 36 milliunits/ml) which was not significantly different (p greater than 0.2) from normal individuals (51.3 +/- 32 milliunits/ml). 12 untransfused patients with beta thalassemia intermedia were found to have comparable serum erythropoietic activity (p greater than 0.01). These levels were much lower than those found in patients with aplastic anemia who had a comparable degree of anemia. We have shown that the low EPO activity in thalassemic patients was not due to experimental conditions (excess of ferritin, low transferrin) nor to specific inhibitors appearing in this disease. No correlation was found between the erythropoietic activity and sex or other clinical parameters of the patients such as severity of the anemia, splenectomy, iron chelation or transfusion therapy. 4 young thalassemic children (1-2 yr of age) studied had high erythropoietic activity ranging from 661 to 5793 milliunits/ml--significantly different from normal children of the same age. It is suggested, therefore, that a decrease in serum erythropoietin levels develops during the course of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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