Serum erythropoietin levels in patients with congenital heart disease

Michael R. Tyndall, David F. Teitel, William A. Lutin, Gisela K. Clemons, Peter R. Dallman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Serum erythropoletin levels were measured by radioimmunoassay in 146 children and young adults with congenital heart disease to assess the relationship between erythropoietin and clinical factors (heart failure, anemia, cyanosis) and hemodynamic variables affecting oxygen delivery and utilization. Erythropoletin values were in the normal range (10 to 30 mU/mL) in 73% (58 of 80) of the patients with and 82% (54 of 66) of those without cyanosis. Elevated erythropoietin values in cyanotic patients were associated with lower mixed venous oxygen saturation and tension than in cyanotic patients with normal erythropoletin levels, even though the degree of polycythemia was similar. In contrast, most of the acyanotic patients who had elevated erythropoietin levels were anemic. Of the blood oxygen measurements, mixed venous oxygen saturation and tension had the closest inverse correlation with erythropoletin values. The normal erythropoletin values in most patients are in accord with other observations that show that an elevation in erythropoietin level in response to hypoxia will be transient if it results in a rise in hemoglobin concentration "appropriate" to the degree of hypoxia. Persistent elevation of erythropoletin in patients with congenital heart disease may indicate harmful impairment of hemoglobin production that is potentially correctable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-544
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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