Original Article

Annals of Hematology

, Volume 65, Issue 6, pp 265-268

First online:

Iron stores and serum transferrin receptor levels during recombinant human erythropoietin treatment of anemia in rheumatoid arthritis

  • G. VreugdenhilAffiliated withDepartment Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology, University Hospital Nijmegen
  • , B. MangerAffiliated withInstitute of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology Department Medicine III, Medical School Erlangen
  • , C. NieuwenhuizenAffiliated withDepartment Rheumatology, Dr. Daniel Den Hoed Clinic
  • , R. A. FeeldersAffiliated withDepartment Chemical Pathology, Medical Faculty, Erasmus University
  • , H. G. van EijkAffiliated withDepartment Chemical Pathology, Medical Faculty, Erasmus University
  • , A. J. G. SwaakAffiliated withDepartment Rheumatology, Dr. Daniel Den Hoed Clinic

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Ten rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with anemia of chronic disorders (ACD) were treated with recombinant human erythropoietin (r-Hu-Epo) using a dose of 250 U/kg s.c. 3 times a week for 6 weeks, in order to evaluate its effects on the anemia, iron stores, and serum-soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) levels. All patients showed a rise in hemoglobin (Hb). Median Hb increased from 5.9 (5.5–7.0) at baseline to 6.7 (5.8–7.8) at 3 weeks and to 7.2 (5.9–8.5) mmol/l at 6 weeks during treatment. Ferritin levels decreased significantly during the 6 weeks, and five patients were iron deficient after 6 weeks of treatment. TfR levels increased significantly at 3 and 6 weeks during treatment.

These preliminary findings may indicate that r-Hu-Epo is effective in improving ACD in RA. The sTfR rise may be explained by an increase in erythroid precursor cell mass or increased TfR expression and a decrease in tissue iron stores, although direct effects of Epo on TfR regulation cannot be excluded. Large double-blind studies with r-Hu-Epo in patients with RA and ACD are warranted.

Key words

Erythropoietin Recombinant human ery thropoietin Anemia Rheumatoid arthritis Iron stores Transferrin receptor