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The aim of this study was to examine whether altered plasma viscosity could contribute to the inappropriately low production rate of erythropoietin (EPO) observed in patients suffering from hypergammaglobulinemias associated with multiple myeloma or Waldenström's disease. We found that the EPO formation in response to anemia in these patients was inversely related to plasma viscosity. A similar inverse relationship between plasma viscosity and EPO production was seen in rats in which EPO formation had been stimulated by exchange transfusion and the plasma viscosity of which was thereby altered by using exchange solutions of different composition to alter plasma viscosity and thus whole blood viscosity independently from hematocrit. Raising the gammaglobulin concentration to approximately 40 mg/ml plasma in the rats almost totally blunted the rise in serum EPO levels despite a fall of the hematocrit to 20%. Determination of renal EPO mRNA levels by RNase protection revealed that the reductions in serum EPO levels at higher plasma viscosities were paralleled by reductions in renal EPO mRNA levels. Taken together, our findings suggest that plasma viscosity may be a significant inhibitory modulator of anemia-induced EPO formation. The increased plasma viscosity in patients with hypergammaglobulinemias may therefore contribute to the inappropriate EPO production, which is a major reason for the anemia developing in these patients.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Invest

Publication Date





251 - 256


Adult, Aged, Animals, Blood Pressure, Blood Viscosity, Erythropoietin, Exchange Transfusion, Whole Blood, Female, Hematocrit, Humans, Kidney, Male, Middle Aged, Multiple Myeloma, Oxygen, RNA, Messenger, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Rats, Wistar, Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia