Pharm 101: Erythropoietin


Haematopoietic growth factor

  • Glycoprotein produced primarily by kidney
  • Production:
    • Interstitial cells in peritubular capillary bed of kidney (85%)
    • Perivenous hepatocytes in liver (15%)
    • Also brain, uterus, oviducts
  • Causes:
    • Proliferation and differentiation of RBC precursors
    • Release of reticulocytes from bone marrow
  • Takes 2-3 days for effects to take place

  • Half-life 4-13 hours after IV administration in chronic renal failure

Clinical uses
  • Anaemia secondary to chronic kidney disease
  • Reduce need for RBC transfusion in patients with marrow failure states:
    • Aplastic anaemia
    • Myeloproliferative disroders
    • AIDS

Adverse effects
  • Toxicity is mainly related to rapid Hb rise:
    • Hypertension
    • Thrombosis
  • Allergic reactions are infrequent and mild


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MBBS (UWA) CCPU Emergency Medicine Trainee with interests in medical education, ECG interpretation, and the use of point-of-care ultrasound in the undifferentiated patient. Co-author of the LITFL ECG Library | Twitter

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