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Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 978710, 11 pages
Research Article

The Antioxidant Effect of Erythropoietin on Thalassemic Blood Cells

Department of Hematology, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Ein-Kerem, 91120 Jerusalem, Israel

Received 25 August 2010; Accepted 14 November 2010

Academic Editor: Aurelio Maggio

Copyright © 2010 Johnny Amer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Because of its stimulating effect on RBC production, erythropoietin (Epo) is used to treat anemia, for example, in patients on dialysis or on chemotherapy. In β-thalassemia, where Epo levels are low relative to the degree of anemia, Epo treatment improves the anemia state. Since RBC and platelets of these patients are under oxidative stress, which may be involved in anemia and thromboembolic complications, we investigated Epo as an antioxidant. Using flow-cytometry technology, we found that in vitro treatment with Epo of blood cells from these patients increased their glutathione content and reduced their reactive oxygen species, membrane lipid peroxides, and external phosphatidylserine. This resulted in reduced susceptibility of RBC to undergo hemolysis and phagocytosis. Injection of Epo into heterozygous (Hbbth3/+) β-thalassemic mice reduced the oxidative markers within 3 hours. Our results suggest that, in addition to stimulating RBC and fetal hemoglobin production, Epo might alleviate symptoms of hemolytic anemias as an antioxidant.