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Anaemia secondary to erythropoietin resistance: important predictor of adverse outcomes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  1. Rahul Kumar Sharma,
  2. Shibdas Chakrabarti
  1. Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rahul Kumar Sharma, Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi 110029, India; dr.rahulksharma{at}


Purpose Anaemia is increasingly being linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as comorbidity with erythropoietin resistance secondary to chronic inflammation is hypothesised to have some role. This study purported to evaluate the occurrence of anaemia in COPD and its association with inflammatory markers, erythropoietin levels, severity and exacerbations of COPD.

Methods Two hundred patients with COPD (90% men, mean age 62.4±8.33 years) were enrolled and subjected to detailed clinical and laboratory evaluation, including complete blood count, erythropoietin levels, C-reactive protein (CRP), pulmonary function test, blood gas analysis and chest X-ray. Severity of COPD was defined on the basis of forced expiratory volume in 1 s according to GOLD guidelines.

Results Anaemia was diagnosed in 14% of patients (n=28, predominantly normocytic normochromic type (92.8%)) and polycythmia in 5% of patients (n=10). The prevalence of anaemia increased with increasing severity of COPD (stage 2: 8%, stage 3: 14.4% and stage 4: 17.2%; p=0.46). Serum erythropoietin was significantly higher in more advanced COPD, with mean levels being 30.2±6.5, 31.78±8.09 and 39.33±7.68 mIU/mL in stage 2, 3 and 4 respectively. Moreover erythropoietin levels inversely correlated with mean haemoglobin levels(r=−0.25), indicating erythropoietin resistance. CRP reactivity increased with increasing stage of disease in patients with anaemia (p=0.026). On follow-up, significant inverse correlation was observed between haemoglobin and COPD exacerbations (p<0.001).

Conclusions Anaemia is a significant comorbidity of COPD with a negative prognostic impact on lung health. It can be ascribed to a state of systemic inflammation resulting in blunting of erythropoietin response with increasing severity of disease, leading to greater morbidity and hospitalisation.

  • Anemia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Erythropoietin resistance
  • C reactive protein
  • Anemia of Chronic disease

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  • Contributors Conceptualisation of the study and design of the analysis were done by SC. Data collection, analyses, interpretation and initial drafting of the paper were undertaken by RKS with contributions from SC. Both authors participated in manuscript editing and critically reviewed all sections of the text for important intellectual content.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Ethical Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.