Early low-dose erythropoiesis-stimulating agent therapy and progression of moderate chronic kidney disease: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial

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It is unknown whether early intervention with low-dose erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in non-anaemic patients delays progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD).


In a single-blind, 24-month trial, adults with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) 30-59 mL/min/1.73 m2 and either Type 2 diabetes mellitus or previous kidney transplantation were randomized to low-dose continuous erythropoiesis receptor activator (CERA; monthly dose 30-75 μg; n = 115) or placebo (n = 120). The primary endpoint was the annual change in eGFR (abbreviated Modification of Diet in Renal Disease formula).


Mean (standard deviation) eGFR was 40.7 (9.8) mL/min/1.73 m2 versus 39.8 (9.2) mL/min/1.73 m2 at baseline for CERA and placebo, respectively, and 39.0 (11.6) g/dL versus 39.7 (10.6) g/dL at the final visit. The median (interquartile range) annual reduction in eGFR was 0.5 (−2.2, 3.8) mL/min/1.73 m2 with CERA versus 0.4 (−2.0, 3.2) mL/min/1.73 m2 with placebo (P = 0.657). No significant difference in the annual change in eGFR was observed between treatment groups in the subpopulations with Type 2 diabetes or kidney transplant. Adverse events with a suspected relation to study drug occurred in 22.0% and 16.2% of patients randomized to CERA or placebo, respectively, and adverse events led to study drug discontinuation in 11.0% and 8.5% of patients.


Patients with moderate CKD and Type 2 diabetes or previous kidney transplantation showed stable renal function that was unaffected by administration of low-dose ESA. In addition, there was no clinically meaningful effect of 2-year low-dose ESA treatment on albuminuria, an important surrogate marker of kidney injury.

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