Pure red cell aplasia and anti-erythropoietin antibodies in patients on hemodialysis: a report of two cases and a literature review

ABSTRACT Introduction: Anemia is a frequent multifactorial complication of CKD seen in patients on dialysis derived mainly from impaired erythropoietin (EPO) production. A less common cause of anemia in individuals with CKD is pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) secondary to the production of anti-EPO antibodies. Objective: This paper aimed two describe two cases of PRCA secondary to the production of anti-EPO antibodies including choice of treatment, patient progression, and a literature review. Materials: This study included the cases of two patients with CKD on hemodialysis with severe anemia in need of specific investigation and management. Results: Patient 1 with CKD secondary to hypertension treated with EPO for 7 months showed persistent decreases in hemoglobin (Hb) levels despite the subcutaneous administration of increasing doses of EPO; the patient required recurring blood transfusions. Workup and imaging tests were negative for the main causes of anemia in individuals with CKD on dialysis. Patient 2 with CKD secondary to adult polycystic kidney disease had been taking EPO for 2 years. The patient developed severe abrupt anemia the month he was started on HD, and required recurring transfusions to treat the symptoms of anemia. Workup and imaging findings were inconclusive. Specific laboratory tests confirmed the patients had anti-EPO antibodies. After six months of immunosuppressant therapy (corticosteroids + cyclosporine) the patients were stable with Hb > 9.0 g/dl. Conclusion: PRCA is a rare condition among patients on dialysis treated with rhEPO and should be considered as a possible cause of refractory anemia. Treating patients with PRCA may be challenging, since the specific management and diagnostic procedures needed in this condition are not always readily available.