Anemia has been associated with aluminum intoxication in patients on chronic dialysis and in animals. In studies presented here, in vitro human erythroid culture was used to delineate the effects of aluminum on normal hematopoiesis. Aluminum by itself in routine culture, even at very high levels (1,035 ng/ml), did not significantly affect erythroid colony growth. The addition of human transferrin to the culture, however, resulted in a marked dose-dependent inhibition of erythroid, but not myeloid colony growth. At all doses, CFU-E progenitors showed greater inhibition than burst-forming units (BFU-E). Aluminum inhibition was not overcome by increasing the dose of erythropoietin or adding additional burst-promoting activity to the culture. Inhibition by aluminum was directly related to the number of binding sites on transferrin in the culture, and was not observed in the presence of fully iron-saturated transferrin.
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