Hydroxyurea therapy increases plasma erythropoietin in patients with essential thrombocythaemia or polycythaemia vera

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The determination of serum/plasma erythropoietin (EPO) concentration has gained widespread use in the diagnosis of polycythaemia vera (PV). A reduced EPO concentration in a newly diagnosed essential thrombocythaemia (ET) seems to be a risk factor for thromboembolic events. In this study plasma EPO concentration was determined before and after initiated hydroxyurea (HU) therapy, 14 patients with PV or ET were included. After 1 month on HU therapy 11 of 14 patients had increased their EPO concentration compared with prior to medication. The plasma EPO was increased in all, except one patient, after 4 months HU therapy. If EPO is incorporated in the diagnostic or prognostic procedures it should be determined before myelosuppressive therapy is initiated.

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