Journal Scan: Darbepoetin for treatment of anemia in cats with CKD


Can this drug help eliminate this complication of chronic kidney disease in cats?

Erythropoiesis is largely controlled by the kidney's production of erythropoietin in response to anemia. In cats with chronic kidney disease, 30% to 65% have an associated anemia. The use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents has been associated with a number of complications in cats, including a pure red cell aplasia, rendering patients transfusion-dependent. Darbepoetin is an effective erythropoiesis-stimulating agent in people, but there is little data on its use in companion animals.

What they did

A recent study evaluated 25 cats seen at the Animal Medical Center in New York between 2005 and 2009 that received two or more doses of darbepoetin, had chronic kidney disease, and had follow-up information available for at least 56 days.

What they found

Of the 25 cats, 14 responded to darbepoetin-all but one receiving a dose of 1 µg/kg/week or higher. The adverse events possibly attributable to darbepoetin included vomiting, hypertension, seizures, and fever.

Take-home message

Darbepoetin was effective for treating anemia associated with chronic kidney disease in cats. Additionally, the results suggest that pure red cell aplasia is less common with the use of darbepoetin than with the use of other erythropoiesis-stimulating agents.

Chalhoub S, Langston CE, Farrelly J. The use of darbepoetin to stimulate erythropoiesis in anemia of chronic kidney disease in cats: 25 cases. J Vet Intern Med 2012;26(2):363-369.

Link to abstract:

This “Journal Scan” was provided by Avi Blake, DVM, a freelance technical editor and writer in Eudora, Kan.

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