The Erythropoietin test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Description: The Erythropoietin test measures levels of the hormone erythropoietin in your blood’s serum and is generally used to identify the cause of anemia.

Also Known As: EPO Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: Due to diurnal variation, it is recommended that specimens be collected between 7: 30am and noon

When is an Erythropoietin test ordered?

When a person develops anemia that does not seem to be due to iron deficiency, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, shortened red blood cell lifespan, or heavy bleeding, a test for erythropoietin may be prescribed. It may be requested when the reticulocyte count is either improperly normal or lowered and the RBC count, hemoglobin, and hematocrit are all decreasing.

When a medical professional has reason to believe that renal dysfunction could be connected to a decline in erythropoietin production in a patient with chronic kidney disease, erythropoietin levels may be requested.

When a complete blood count test reveals that a person has an elevated RBC count along with a high hematocrit and hemoglobin, an EPO test may be required.

When a medical professional has a suspicion that a patient has a bone marrow condition such myeloproliferative neoplasms or myelodysplastic syndrome, they may prescribe an EPO test.

What does an Erythropoietin blood test check for?

The hormone called erythropoietin is largely produced by the kidneys. It is essential for the development of red blood cells, which transport oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues. Erythropoietin levels in the blood are determined by this test.

When blood oxygen levels are low, the kidneys generate and release erythropoietin into the blood. The transport of EPO to the bone marrow increases the formation of red blood cells. The hormone only lasts a little time before being removed from the body in the urine.

The kidneys' capacity to manufacture erythropoietin and the oxygen saturation level determine how much of it is released. Erythropoietin is produced and released at higher rates until blood oxygen levels return to normal or close to normal levels, at which point production of the hormone declines. This dynamic feedback system is used by the body to maintain a constant blood RBC count and adequate oxygen levels.

However, if a person has damaged kidneys and does not produce enough erythropoietin, too few RBCs are created and the person usually becomes anemic. Similar to this, a person may develop anemia if their bone marrow is unable to respond to the stimulation provided by EPO. Some bone marrow problems and chronic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis might cause this.

People with illnesses like lung ailments that affect how much oxygen they breathe in may manufacture more EPO to try and make up for the low oxygen level. Both persistent smokers of tobacco and people who reside at high altitudes may have greater levels of EPO.

Too many RBCs may be created if erythropoietin is produced in excess, as is the case with a number of different malignancies as well as some benign or malignant kidney tumors. This can cause the blood to become thicker and occasionally cause high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attacks, or strokes. Rarely, polycythemia is brought on by the bone marrow condition polycythemia vera rather than by an excess of erythropoietin.

Lab tests often ordered with an Erythropoietin test:

  • Red Blood Cell Count
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hematocrit
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Reticulocyte Count
  • JAK2 Mutation

Conditions where an Erythropoietin test is recommended:

  • Anemia
  • Kidney Disease
  • Bone Marrow Disorders

How does my health care provider use an Erythropoietin test?

The main purpose of an erythropoietin test is to identify the root of anemia. Candidates for erythropoietin replacement therapy can be found with its aid. It may also be used to assess a bone marrow problem or to assist in determining the origin of an excess of red blood cells.

An EPO test is typically requested as a follow-up to aberrant CBC results, such as low RBC count, hemoglobin, or hematocrit levels. These tests identify the existence and degree of anemia and provide the doctor with information about the anemia's most likely cause. To assist identify whether low EPO may be contributing to or escalating the anemia, erythropoietin testing is prescribed.

The test may be prescribed in cases of chronic renal disease to determine whether the kidneys are still capable of producing enough erythropoietin. Erythropoietin replacement therapy may help boost red blood cell synthesis in the bone marrow if the amount of erythropoietin is low.

To help identify whether the extra production of RBCs is caused by an overproduction of erythropoietin or some other cause, an erythropoietin test may occasionally be requested as a follow-up to CBC findings that reveal an increased number of RBCs.

What do my Erythropoietin test results mean?

A person may not be producing enough erythropoietin if they are anemic and their erythropoietin levels are low or normal.

When erythropoietin levels are elevated in an anemic individual, the anemia may be brought on by a vitamin or iron shortage, a bone marrow condition, or both.

It is likely that extra erythropoietin is being created by the kidneys or by other body tissues if a person has too many red blood cells and their erythropoietin levels are elevated. The name for this disorder is secondary polycythemia.

The reason of the polycythemia is probably unrelated to the synthesis of erythropoietin if there is excessive RBC production and erythropoietin levels are normal or low. The name for this disorder is primary polycythemia.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: EPO


*Process times are an estimate and are not guaranteed. The lab may need additional time due to weather, holidays, confirmation/repeat testing, or equipment maintenance.

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