Effects of antioxidant vitamins on renal and hepatic erythropoietin production

Wolfgang Jelkmann*, Horst Pagel, Thomas Hellwig, Joachim Fandrey

*Corresponding author for this work
44 Citations (Scopus)


An important role in O2 sensing has been assigned to microsomal and membrane-bound b-type cytochromes which generate regulatory reactive O2 species (ROS). Recently, ROS have been shown to suppress the in vitro synthesis of erythropoietin (Epo). We investigated the potential of the antioxidant vitamins A, E and C to enhance renal and hepatic Epo production. Renal effects were studied in isolated serum-free perfused rat kidneys. In control experiments without antioxidant vitamins, Epo secretion amounted to 441 ± 23 mU/g kidney (mean ± SEM, N = 5) during the three hour period of hypoxic perfusion (arterial pO2 35 mm Hg). Epo secretion significantly increased to 674 ± 92 mU/g kidney (N = 7) when vitamins A (0.5 μg/ml), E (0.5 μg/ml) and C (10 μg/ml) in combination were added to the perfusion medium. The effects of the single vitamins were studied in Epo-producing hepatoma cell cultures (lines HepG2 and Hep3B). Vitamin A induced a dose-dependent increase (half-maximal stimulation at 0.2 μg/ml) in the production of immunoreactive Epo during 24 hours of incubation (such as 680 ± 51 U Epo/g cell protein in HepG2 cultures with 3 μg/ml retinol acetate compared to 261 ± 15 U/g in untreated controls; N = 4). In contrast, vitamin E (tested from 0.05 to 500 μg/ml) and vitamin C (tested from 2 to 200 μg/ml) did not increase Epo production in hepatoma cell cultures. Thus, while vitamins E and C may have the potential to protect cells from oxidative damage, vitamin A exerts a specific stimulation of Epo production. Preliminary evidence suggests that this effect of vitamin A involves increased mRNA levels of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α).

Original languageEnglish
JournalKidney International
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)497-501
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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