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what is health merits/demerits of Erythropoietin (epo)

This is a hormone formed in the kidney that helps in the formation of red blood cells by the bone marrow.

The kidney cells that forms erythropoietin are sensitive to little oxygen levels in the blood that moves through the kidney. These cells produce and liberate erythropoietin when the oxygen level is very little. A little oxygen level may be a sign of a reduced amount of red blood cells (anemia), or molecules that transport oxygen in the body.

Erythropoietin Boosts Red Blood Cell Production

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a 165-residue protein hormone that signals the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells (also known as erythrocytes). EPO is synthesized primarily by the kidneys, so individuals with kidney disease are often deficient in EPO and develop anemia. Treating these individuals with recombinant EPO can increase red blood cell production to near-normal levels.

The results of EPO treatment have not been lost on athletes, particularly in endurance sports such as cycling; some competitors have discovered that taking EPO increases their red blood cell counts, thereby increasing their ability to deliver oxygen to their muscles. The illegal use of EPO to enhance athletic performance is difficult​ to detect. For one thing, EPO is already present in the body, and an increase in red blood cells by itself is a not proof of EPO doping.

A clever abuser may even take iron supplements to mask the tell-tale drop in stored iron that accompanies the increased production of erythrocytes. Successfully detecting the presence of recombinant EPO takes advantage of subtle differences between the natural and recombinant hormones. Although they have the same amino acid sequence, recombinant EPO produced by cultured cells is not derivatized with carbohydrates in the same manner as EPO produced naturally by the kidneys.

Is the kidney the only source of erythropoietin (EPO)?

Erythropoietin is produced in a small amount in other organs of the body e.g the liver. Only about 10% of erythropoietin is made by the liver. The erythropoietin gene has been located on human chromosome 7 (in band 7q21). Different DNA sequences flanking the erythropoietin gene act to manages liver and kidney production of erythropoietin.

Why is the erythropoietin (EPO) test performed?

The erythropoietin hormone can be found and calculated in the blood. An irregular level of erythropoietin in the blood can be a symptom of bone marrow disorders, (increased red blood cell productions) or erythropoietin abuse. checking erythropoietin blood levels is of value if:

    Inadequate erythropoietin might reduce the number of red blood cells (anemia), especially anemia associated with kidney disease.
    Excess erythropoietin might cause too many red blood cells (polycythemia).
    Excess erythropoietin might be confirmation for a kidney tumor.
    Excess erythropoietin in the body of an athlete may suggest the abuse erythropoietin.  

What does an abnormal erythropoietin (EPO) level indicate?
Irregular erythropoietin levels indicate possible disease of the bone marrow or kidneys. Another prospect is abuse by an athlete to increase the red blood cell count in other to enhance athletic performance. The accurate explanation of an abnormal erythropoietin level depends on the particular clinical condition. The erythropoetin level may be unsuitably normal when it should be superior (when there is an anemia), signifying a problem with the kidneys.


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