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      Efficacy of Erythropoietin on Dialysis in Patients with Beta Thalassemia Minor

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          Background: It is unknown whether chronic erythropoietin (EPO) treatment is able to normalize hemoglobin (Hb) levels and ameliorate cardiac remodeling avoiding blood transfusions in uremic blood transfusion-dependent patients with β-thalassemia minor (β-thal). Methods: In 12 hemodialysis (HD) patients with β-thal, requiring blood transfusions despite EPO therapy, we planned to increase Hb levels up to the target levels (11–12 g/dl) within a one-year period by administering progressively higher doses of EPO (correction phase). We also planned to maintain the Hb target for an additional year (maintenance phase). Results: In the year before the study, patients required 3.3 ± 0.9 units of packed red blood cells. At baseline, the Hb level obtained with an EPO dose of 212 ± 73 U/kg/week i.v. was 8.2 ± 0.8 g/dl. The EPO dose was gradually increased within the first year up to 458 ± 78 U/kg/week at month 12 (correction phase) and then significantly tapered down during the maintenance phase (390 ± 54 U/kg/week at month 24). During the correction phase, the Hb levels markedly increased (11.1 ± 0.3 g/dl at month 12) and did not change in the maintenance phase. No blood transfusion was required throughout the 2 years of follow-up. Left ventricular (LV) mass index progressively decreased from the basal value of 144 ± 12 to 124 ± 11 g/m<sup>2</sup> in the first year and normalized in all patients at month 24 (109 ± 12 g/m<sup>2</sup>, p < 0.001); this occurred in the absence of any change of LV cavity volume index (<90 ml/m<sup>2</sup>). Conclusions: In HD transfusion-dependent patients with β-thal, the administration of high EPO dose for 2 years permits the attainment and the maintenance of Hb targets without blood transfusions. This therapeutic approach permits a complete remission of concentric LV hypertrophy without any adverse effects on the vascular system.

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          The intensity of hemodialysis and the response to erythropoietin in patients with end-stage renal disease.

          Anemia (characterized by a hematocrit of 30 percent or lower) persists in 40 to 60 percent of patients treated for end-stage renal disease with maintenance hemodialysis, despite concomitant erythropoietin (epoetin) therapy. We tested the hypothesis that inadequate dialysis is a key reason for the insufficient response to erythropoietin in patients with end-stage renal disease who are receiving hemodialysis. We prospectively studied 135 randomly selected patients undergoing hemodialysis who had been receiving intravenous erythropoietin for at least four months. The adequacy of dialysis was assessed by measuring the percent reduction in the blood urea nitrogen concentration and the serum albumin concentration. The hematocrit was measured weekly for four weeks, transferrin saturation was measured, and coexisting illnesses were documented. To determine the effect of an increased level of dialysis on the hematocrit, the thrice-weekly schedule of dialysis was increased to raise the mean urea-reduction value from 60.7 to 72 percent for six weeks in 20 consecutive patients whose base-line urea-reduction value was less than 65 percent. The change in the hematocrit in these patients was compared with that observed in the next 20 patients who had an equivalent base-line urea-reduction value but whose level of dialysis was not altered. The mean hematocrit of the entire group was 29.2 +/- 4 percent, and the mean thrice-weekly dose of erythropoietin was 59 +/- 29 U per kilogram of body weight. The mean serum albumin concentration was 3.8 +/- 0.4 g per deciliter, the mean urea-reduction value was 62 +/- 4.8 percent, and the mean transferrin saturation was 20 +/- 9 percent. Multiple regression analysis revealed direct correlations between the hematocrit and the serum albumin concentration (P = 0.009) and between the hematocrit and the urea-reduction value (P = 0.012) after adjustment for other factors. A logistic-regression analysis indicated that an 11 percent increase in the urea-reduction value doubled the odds that a patient would have a hematocrit above 30 percent. After six weeks of increased intensity of dialysis in 20 patients with base-line urea-reduction values of less than 65 percent, the mean (+/- SE) hematocrit rose from 28.4 +/- 0.78 percent to 32.3 +/- 0.71 percent (P = 0.002); there was no significant change in a control group of 20 patients with equivalent base-line urea-reduction values in whom the dialysis level was not altered (28.2 +/- 0.84 percent to 26.3 +/- 0.85 percent; P = 0.175). In patients with end-stage renal disease, inadequate hemodialysis is associated with a suboptimal response to erythropoietin therapy. Increasing the intensity of dialysis in patients with anemia who are receiving inadequate dialysis results in a significant increase in the hematocrit.
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            Prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in thalassemia and haemodialysis patients in north Iran-Rasht.

            Hepatitis C virus (HCV) seroprevalence and risk factors in north Iran were investigated in 105 thalassemia sufferers, 93 haemodialysis patients and 5976 blood donors by second generation ELISA. Our study showed that haemodialysis patients and thalassemia sufferers were at higher risk of having HCV infection; the prevalence being 55.9% and 63.8% respectively in comparison to the prevalence of blood donors (0.5%). A confirmatory immunoblotting was employed using HCV-positive cases (54 thalassemia sufferers and 19 blood donors). The result showed that 92.6% of samples of the first group and 10.5% of the latter were positive. Thus, it can be suggested that ELISA in low-risk cases may produce considerable false positives. In HCV-positive patients with thalassemia, the incidence of HCV among different age groups and genders was similar but a strong correlation in respect to the number of blood transfusion (P=0.008) was observed. In HCV-positive haemodialysis patients, it was found that there was no correlation with liver function tests (alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase: ALT and AST), but a significant correlation was observed in respect to the duration of dialysis(P=0.000) and the number of units transfused (P=0.000). Consequently, it still seems blood transfusion is the main factor for increasing the incidence of HCV in thalassemia sufferers and haemodialysis patients.
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              Influence of the cyclic variation of hydration status on hemoglobin levels in hemodialysis patients.

              Maintenance hemodialysis (HD) patients were studied to assess the effect on hemoglobin (Hb) concentration induced by the cyclic variation in hydration status. Forty-nine HD patients were examined in three consecutive HD sessions in a 1-week treatment period. In a subgroup of 23 patients, Hb levels also were investigated during the long interdialytic interval. Hb levels at the end of the long interdialytic interval were significantly lower by 0.5 to 0.6 g/dL (5 to 6 g/L) than those at the end of short intervals. Among all pre-HD and post-HD Hb values, levels measured at the end of short intervals were closest to the mean Hb value of the week, derived from calculation of the area under the curve (12.0 +/- 0.2 g/dL [120 +/- 2 g/L]). Intradialytic Hb increments were different in the three sessions (+1.6 +/- 0.1 g/dL [+16 +/- 1 g/L] after the long interval, +1.1 +/- 0.1 g/dL [+11 +/- 1 g/L] and +1.1 +/- 0.1 g/dL [+11 +/- 1 g/L] after short intervals [P < 0.001] and proportionate to weight loss [-3.4 +/- 0.1, -2.7 +/- 0.1, and -2.6 +/- 0.1 kg, respectively; P < 0.001]). Hb level increment and weight loss correlated directly (r = 0.527; P < 0.0001); each 1 L of ultrafiltration (UF) led to an increase in Hb level of approximately 0.4 g/dL (4 g/L). Plasma refilling accounted for an approximately 45% decrement in the intradialytic increase in Hb level 2 hours post-HD. This study suggests that: (1) the end of the short interdialytic period is the most appropriate timing for anemia assessment, and (2) the remarkable hemodiluting effect of post-HD plasma refilling protects against excessive increments in Hb levels induced by UF. Copyright 2002 by the National Kidney Foundation, Inc.

                Author and article information

                Blood Purif
                Blood Purification
                S. Karger AG
                November 2004
                17 November 2004
                : 22
                : 5
                : 453-460
                aSolofra County Hospital, Solofra, bNephrology Units, Second University of Naples, Naples, cAriano Irpino, dUniversity of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy
                80729 Blood Purif 2004;22:453–460
                © 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, References: 29, Pages: 8
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                Original Paper

                Cardiovascular Medicine, Nephrology

                Hemodialysis, Erythropoietin, Thalassemia, Blood transfusion


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