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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Circulating erythroid progenitors in the anemia of prematurity.

We studied erythropoiesis in infants with the anemia of prematurity by counting the number of colonies derived from erythroid burst-forming units (BFU-E) in the blood of 11 premature infants before they received transfusions. Colony growth in blood from the infants was compared with growth in blood from adults and umbilical-cord blood from term infants, in the presence of erythropoietin, 0 to 2000 mU per milliliter. Addition of increasing concentrations of erythropoietin resulted in a stepwise increase in the number of colonies derived from BFU-E (P less than 0.0005) of all three groups of subjects. Cultures stimulated with 2000 mU of erythropoietin yielded 28.1 +/- 7.6, 88.0 +/- 19.4, and 121.0 +/- 22.5 bursts (mean +/- SE) per 10(5) cells plated in blood from adults, blood from premature infants, and cord blood, respectively. Although more BFU-E-derived colonies appeared when 200 or 2000 mU were present per milliliter in cultures of the infants' blood and cord blood, the intrinsic responsiveness of BFU-E to erythropoietin was similar in all groups. Although the mean hematocrit was 26 percent, mean serum erythropoietin concentrations (+/- SD) in the infants (20.7 +/- 10.0 mU per milliliter) were not significantly different from those in the adult controls (24.0 +/- 6.5). We conclude that progenitor cells committed to erythroid differentiation are present during the anemia of prematurity, and that the intrinsic responsiveness of the circulating BFU-E pool to erythropoietin is normal. These results implicate inadequate production of erythropoietin as the cause of the anemia of prematurity and suggest that recombinant erythropoietin might provide a therapeutic alternative to transfusion for symptomatic babies with this condition.[1]


  1. Circulating erythroid progenitors in the anemia of prematurity. Shannon, K.M., Naylor, G.S., Torkildson, J.C., Clemons, G.K., Schaffner, V., Goldman, S.L., Lewis, K., Bryant, P., Phibbs, R. N. Engl. J. Med. (1987) [Pubmed]
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