Mechanisms and mediators of hypertension induced by erythropoietin and related molecules

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Scopus citations


Hypertension is a common but frequently overlooked adverse effect of erythropoietin (EPO) therapy. Underreporting of hypertension with EPO is likely due to eithermore aggressively managing hypertension through the prescription of antihypertensive drugs or closer attention to dryweight. The purpose and focus of this review is to critically evaluate the mechanisms of EPOinduced hypertension. Preclinical data are considered first, followed by clinical data where available. Mediated by a variety of molecules, there is an imbalance in the vascular tone favoring net vasoconstriction that mediates EPO-induced hypertension. Animal studies show the primary importance of chronic kidney disease in the genesis of EPO-induced hypertension. Preclinical studies show deranged regulation of the nitric oxide, endothelins and porstanoids and the sympathoadrenal and renin angiotensin pathways as causes of EPO-induced hypertension. Human studies suggest that EPO administration is also associated with increased responsiveness to catecholamines and angiotensin II on vascular tissue; in addition, hypoxia-induced vasodilation may be impaired in those with EPO-induced hypertension. There is little evidence for EPO as a direct vasoconstrictor or its effect on blood viscosity as a mechanism of EPO-induced hypertension. EPO-induced hypertension, at least in part, appears to be independent of an increase in hemoglobin, because experiments show that hemoglobin may be increased by EPO without an increase in blood pressure (BP) by simply treating the animals with EPO-binding protein and that treatment with EPO in the setting of iron deficiency may not increase hemoglobin but may still increase BP. However, experimental data are not consistent across studies and better mechanistic designs are needed, especially in patients with chronic kidney disease, to dissect the precise mechanism of EPO-induced hypertension. Animal studies suggest that hypoxia-inducible factor stablizers may induce hypertension by provoking calcification and augmenting chronic intermittent hypoxia as occurs in sleep apnea. Others show that there may be an antihypertensive effect via kidney repair. Whether these drugs will alter the risk of hypertension compared with EPO remains to be seen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1690-1698
Number of pages9
JournalNephrology Dialysis Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • HIF stablizers
  • anemia
  • erythropoietin
  • hypertension
  • nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanisms and mediators of hypertension induced by erythropoietin and related molecules'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this