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Br J Cancer. 1998 Sep;78(6):752-6.

Enhanced radiosensitivity in experimental tumours following erythropoietin treatment of chemotherapy-induced anaemia.

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  • 1Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany.


The radiosensitivity of solid tumours in anaemic rats treated with recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO, epoetin beta) was studied. Anaemia was induced by a single dose of carboplatin (45 mg kg(-1) i.v.), resulting in a reduction in the haemoglobin concentration by 30%. In a second group, the development of anaemia was prevented by rhEPO (1000 IU kg(-1)) administered s.c. three times per week starting 6 days before the carboplatin application. Three days after carboplatin treatment, DS-sarcomas were implanted subcutaneously onto the hind foot dorsum. Neither carboplatin nor rhEPO treatment influenced tumour growth rate. Five days after implantation, tumours were irradiated with a single non-curative dose (10 Gy), resulting in a growth delay with a subsequent regrowth of the tumours. In the rhEPO-treated group, the growth delay lasted significantly longer (9.5 days vs. 4.5 days) and the regrowth was slower (6.0 days vs. 4.1 days) compared with the anaemic group. These data suggest that the correction of chemotherapy-induced anaemia by rhEPO (epoetin beta) treatment increases tumour radiosensitivity, presumably as a result of an improved oxygen supply to tumour tissue.

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