Bioavailability of Iron in Hemodialysis Patients Treated With Erythropoietin: Evidence for the Inhibitory Role of Aluminum
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The dose of recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) required to correct the anemia of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) varies among patients. The response to r-HuEPO is impaired if absolute or relative iron deficiency exists. Aluminum may cause a microcytic anemia in patients with ESRD, but the mechanism remains incompletely defined. Twenty-two patients in the Canadian Multicentre EPO trial were studied for 6 months. In this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial, free erythrocyte protoporphyrin (FEP) was used as an indicator of iron-deficient deficient erythropoiesis. The relationship of FEP to the estimates of iron availability (serum iron, transferrin saturation, ferritin) and iron utilization (corrected reticulocyte count, hemoglobin) was evaluated by multiple linear regression analysis. The effect of aluminum on FEP was evaluated by adjusting the statistical model for this variable. All patients were iron replete as assessed by serum ferritin. FEP was not related to serum aluminum before administration of r-HuEPO, but it was significantly correlated with aluminum in the treated group. In hemodialysis patients treated with r-HuEPO, the proportion of the variability explained by the parameters of iron utilization and iron availability was 0.27. The effect of aluminum increased this to 0.59. In hemodialysis patients not receiving r-HuEPO, the proportion of variability in FEP explained by the model increased from 0.16 to 0.28 by adjusting for aluminum. The data support the hypothesis that aluminum interferes with the bioavailability of stored iron for erythropoiesis and thus may result in a microcytic anemia in patients with ESRD or may blunt their response to r-HuEPO therapy.
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