Multicenter study of recombinant human erythropoietin in correction of anemia in rheumatoid arthritis

Theodore Pincus, Nancy Olsen, I. Jon Russell, Frederick Wolfe, E. Robert Harris, Thomas J. Schnitzer, Joseph A. Boccagno, Sanford B. Krantz

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221 Scopus citations


purpse: To administer recombinant erythropoietin to patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had significant anemia, while monitoring hematologic and rheumatologic clinical responses as well as potential toxicity. patients and methods: Seventeen patients with rheumatoid arthritis from five rheumatology care settings were studied. The patients had initial hematocrits of 34% or less and stable clinical status, and were not being treated with second-line drugs or corticosteroids. An 8-week randomized double-blind study involving various dosages of recombinant erythropoietin, as well as placebo, was followed by a 24-week open-label study in which dosage could be titrated to achieve a normal hematocrit. results: In the 8-week randomized study, four of 13 patients who received injections of recombinant erythropoietin showed a hematologic response, arbitrarily defined as at least a 6-unit increase in hematocrit. None of four placebo-treated patients showed a meaningful hematologic response. All 11 patients who completed the subsequent 24-week open-label study reached a normal hematocrit level at some time during the study, and 10 of 11 showed an increase of hematocrit 6 units or greater. At least one adjustment, i.e., an increase, decrease, or omission of the erythropoietin dosage, was required in all patients to maintain the hematocrit at a target range of 35% for women or 40% for men. Meaningful changes were not seen in patients' capacity to perform activities of daily living or pain levels during either the 8-week randomized study or the 24-week open-label study. No adverse effects were associated with recombinant erythropoietin therapy. conclusion: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed excellent hematologic responses to recombinant erythropoietin, without toxicity, during careful monitoring for appropriate dosage adjustment, although a meaningful change in rheumatologic clinical status was not seen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalThe American journal of medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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