AIMS--To assess whether r-HuEPO (recombinant human erythropoietin) has any effect on thrombopoiesis in patients with chronic renal failure. METHODS--This was a retrospective study of 78 patients with chronic renal failure undergoing either haemodialysis (n = 57) or intraperitoneal dialysis (n = 21). All patients had a full blood count (in EDTA) measured before starting r-HuEPO and at monthly intervals thereafter up to six months. Variables studied were haematocrit, platelet count, mean platelet volume (MPV) and platelet distribution width (PDW). Other groups of control patients were also studied--patients with chronic renal failure receiving dialysis but not r-HuEPO (n = 40) and a group of patients with normal renal function who were receiving aspirin (n = 30). RESULTS--There was a significant increase in mean haematocrit (p < 0.01) and in mean platelet volume (p < 0.001) over the six month period, but no change in either total platelet count or platelet distribution width in the patients with chronic renal failure receiving r-HuEPO. In contrast, both the control groups showed no significant change in MPV. CONCLUSIONS--The results suggest that r-HuEPO affects thrombopoiesis and may be part of a group of humoral factors contributing to megakaryocyte development and maturation. Larger platelets are more reactive and may contribute to the increased risk of thrombosis associated with r-HuEPO.
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