Cisplatin-based therapy results in a cumulative anemia that is disproportionate to the effects on other blood cells. The severity of this treatment-induced anemia and the resultant transfusion requirement in cancer patients correlate with cisplatin-induced renal tubular dysfunction. Observed/expected serum erythropoietin (EPO) ratios decline with progressive cisplatin therapy and are proportionate to the degree of renal dysfunction. Recovery from anemia and of observed/expected serum EPO ratios in patients occurs after cessation of cisplatin therapy, along with restoration of renal tubular function. Creatinine clearance, however, remains permanently depressed. Cisplatin-treated rats develop progressive renal dysfunction and anemia that persists for many weeks, without effects on white blood cell counts. The anemia is also associated with a lack of expected EPO and reticulocyte response. With EPO administration, cisplatin-treated rats exhibit a greater reticulocyte response and hematocrit increment then non-cisplatin-treated rats given EPO, indicating minimal erythroid precursor cell damage from cisplatin. These results indicate the primary etiology of cisplatin-associated anemia is a transient, but persisting EPO deficiency state resulting from cisplatin-induced renal tubular damage, which can be prevented or treated by hormone (EPO) replacement.
P A Wood, W J Hrushesky