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Semin Hematol. 1996 Apr;33(2 Suppl 2):5-7; discussion 8-9.

Erythropoietin, iron metabolism, and red blood cell production.

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New York Blood Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Erythropoietin (EPO) plays a central role in the regulation of red blood cell (RBC) production. Since iron is an essential element for erythropoiesis and hemoglobin (Hb) synthesis, its importance is heightened in patients treated with epoetin alfa. Stimulation of erythropoiesis following the administration of epoetin alfa is associated with several changes in iron metabolism; indeed, plasma ferritin levels fall as a result of increased utilization of iron by the expanding erythroid marrow. The administration of epoetin alfa can therefore lead to a state of relative iron deficiency. Thus, iron supplementation is essential to maximize the effect of epoetin alfa-induced erythropoiesis.

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