When causes inappropriate stimulation of EPO production in secondary polycythemia?

Updated: Jul 20, 2020
  • Author: Srikanth Nagalla, MBBS, MS, FACP; Chief Editor: Sara J Grethlein, MD, FACP  more...
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Inappropriate stimulation of EPO production may occur in the following settings:

  • Benign renal lesions, such as hydronephrosis and cysts, can stimulate EPO production, possibly due to compromised renal blood flow by compressive or vasoconstrictive mechanisms.

  • Malignant and benign tumors that secrete EPO have been observed in patients with renal carcinomas, cerebellar hemangioblastomas, adrenal carcinomas, adrenal adenomas, hepatomas, and uterine leiomyomas.

  • Blood doping is an illegal practice. Competitive athletes have been known to attempt to maintain an advantage over their opponents by autologous blood transfusions or self-administration of recombinant EPO. Several deaths have been attributed to excessive blood doping.

  • Illicit use of androgenic steroids to build muscles and strength can also increase red blood cell mass by stimulating endogenous serum EPO levels.

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