Previous studies reported that the long-acting erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA) significantly suppresses the expression of hepcidin, which regulates iron availability. In this study, we compared the iron availability for erythropoiesis between short and long-acting ESA over a long period.
We enrolled 69 hemodialysis patients in this study. All patients were treated with short-acting ESA (epoetin-α or epoetin-β) for the first 30 months. Then, all patients switched to long-acting ESA (continuous erythropoietin receptor activator-methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta) for the next 30 months. We measured their blood levels of Hb, ferritin, iron, total iron-binding capacity, intact-parathyroid hormone, calcium, phosphate, albumin, and highly sensitive CRP level.
There was no significant change in the dose of short or long-acting ESA during the study period. Compared with the short-acting ESA period, the mean hemoglobin (Hb) and transferrin saturation levels were significantly increased in the long-acting ESA period (from 10.3 ± 0.2 to 10.6 ± 0.3 g/dL). On the other hand, the mean serum ferritin level (from 72 ± 22.2 to 56.3 ± 14 ng/mL) and the dose of IV iron (from 108 ± 63 to 53 ± 27 mg/month) were significantly decreased in the long-acting ESA period.
In this study, we found that anemia treatment with long-acting ESA attenuated the iron utilization for erythropoiesis and maintained target Hb levels without requiring a higher dose of IV iron or ESA.

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