Progress in understanding the pathogenesis of the anemia of chronic disease [see comments]

RT Jr Means and SB Krantz


Improved understanding of the inflammatory response and the identification and characterization of the specific cytokines involved, as well as improved understanding of erythropoiesis, and the availability of recombinant human growth factors such as EPO, have greatly enhanced our appreciation of the pathogenesis of ACD by allowing development of a number of informative models for studying this syndrome. It appears that a variety of cytokines are involved in all aspects of the pathogenesis of ACD, from the inhibition of erythroid progenitors and EPO production to impairment of iron release. A schematic of the contributions of some of these cytokines to the development of ACD is shown in Fig 6. The exact biochemical mechanisms by which these effects occur is still to be determined. The progress outlined in this report has allowed us to develop a more precise understanding of the pathogenesis of this common and important clinical syndrome. In 1983, Hansen subtitled a review of ACD “A Bag of Unsolved Questions.” Although this description is still accurate, our understanding of ACD has now developed to the point where we can offer a more defined subtitle: “A Bag of Cytokines.”