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Erythropoietin (EPO)

Serum erythropoietin measurement is used in the diagnosis of anemia and polycythemia. By administering recombinant erythropoietin as a biological treatment to increase red blood cells, erythropoietin measurement can also be used to monitor response to treatment.

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a glycoprotein hormone produced by the kidneys in response to tissue hypoxia. It then stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Measurement of erythropoietin helps to diagnose true (vera) polycythemia, secondary polycythemia, and various forms of anemia as well as to determine if the level of erythropoietin produced is consistent with the level of anemia observed. Testing EPO may also be necessary when hemoglobin and hematocrit show anemia, but reticulocyte counts suggest that bone marrow has not responded by increasing erythrocyte production.

Possible Interpretations of Pathological Values
  • Increase: Aplastic anemia, erythropoietin-producing tumors, hemolytic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, polycythemia vera, pregnancy, secondary polycythemia, uncomplicated anemias. Drugs that may increase EPO levels: anabolic steroids, epoetin (erythropoietin), fluoxymesterone, zidovudine.
  • Decrease: AIDS, chronic anemia, end-stage kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis. Drugs that may reduce EPO levels: acetazolamide, amphotericin B, cisplatin, enalapril, epoetin (erythropoietin), furosemide.



Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.

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