Data May Help Explain Beneficial Effect of Pentoxifylline in Dialysis Patients with Anemia

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This article is part of our ongoing coverage of Renal Week 2009. Click here for a complete list of our Renal Week Live articles.


Key Points

  • Part of the reason pentoxifylline (PEN) has been reported to improve resistance to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents may be related to better mobilization and utilization of iron in dialysis patients with anemia.
  • Before taking PEN, subjects had a mean ferritin level of 1,137 ng/mL; after PEN it declined significantly to 968 ng/mL.

Pentoxifylline (PEN) has been reported to improve resistance to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). New preliminary findings suggest that part of this beneficial effect may be related to better mobilization and utilization of iron in dialysis patients with anemia, according to a study presented at ASN's Renal Week 2009.

Mahmoud T. El-Khatib, MD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and colleagues studied 34 stable dialysis patients who were prescribed PEN. Before taking the drug, subjects had a mean ferritin level of 1,137 ng/mL.

After PEN treatment started, the mean ferritin level declined significantly to 968 ng/mL. Hemoglobin levels increased significantly from 11.2 to 12 g/dL. Transferrin saturation (TSAT) remained stable (29.4% before treatment and 29.7% after the start of treatment).

In a subset of 18 patients receiving iron treatment, ferritin levels before and after the start of PEN therapy were 875 and 805 ng/mL, respectively, a nonsignificant difference. TSAT increased from 21.6% to 27.7%, but the change was not significant. Hemoglobin levels, however, rose significantly from 11.1 to 12.1 g/dL.

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