Oral vitamin C supplementation reduces erythropoietin requirement in hemodialysis patients with functional iron deficiency.
Int Urol Nephrol. 2016 May 11. Epub 2016 May 11. PMID: 27170339
PURPOSE: Functional iron deficiency (FID) is a major cause of persistent anemia in dialysis patients and also contributes to a suboptimal response to erythropoietin (Epo) administration. Vitamin C acts as an enzyme cofactor and enhances mobilization of the ferrous form of iron to transferrin thus increasing its bioavailability. High-dose intravenous vitamin C has been shown to decrease the Epo requirement and improve hemoglobin levels in previous studies. This study assessed the effect of low-dose oral vitamin C on possible reduction in Epo dose requirements in stable hemodialysis patients with FID.
METHODS: This prospective study included 22 stable hemodialysis patients with FID defined as transferrin saturation (T sat)<30 % and ferritin levels of>100 mcg/L with Epo requirement of ≥4000 U/HD session. Patients received oral vitamin C 250 mg daily for 3 months. Hemoglobin, iron and T sat levels were recorded monthly. No one received iron supplementation during the study period.
RESULTS: There was a significant reduction in median Epo dose requirement in the 15 patients who completed the study, from 203.1 U/kg/week (95 % CI 188.4-270.6) to 172.8 U/kg/week (95 % CI 160.2-214.8), (P = 0.01). In the seven responders, there was 33 % reduction in Epo dose from their baseline. Despite adjustment of Epo dose, the mean hemoglobin level was significantly increased from 10.1 ± 0.6 to 10.7 ± 0.6 mg/dL (P = 0.03). No adverse effects of oral vitamin C were observed.
CONCLUSION: Daily low-dose oral vitamin C supplementation reduced Epo dose requirements in hemodialysis patients with FID. Limitations of this study include a small sample size and the lack of measurements of vitamin C and oxalate levels. Despite concerns regarding oral vitamin C absorption in dialysis patients, this study indicates vitamin C was well tolerated by all participants without reported adverse effect.