Hydroxyurea-induced HbF production in anemic primates: Augmentation by erythropoietin, hematopoietic growth factors, and sodium butyrate

K. T. McDonagh, G. J. Dover, R. E. Donahue, D. G. Nathan, B. Agricola, E. Byrne, A. W. Nienhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Hydroxyurea, a cell-cycle-specific cytotoxic agent, has been shown to increase fetal hemoglobin (HbF) production. This property makes it an attractive drug for treatment of sickle cell disease and severe beta thalassemia. Its potential efficacy is limited because of a variable and often suboptimal response. Combinations of hydroxyurea and other drugs may induce more clinically significant increases in HbF. We have utilized chronically phlebotomized rhesus monkeys, treated with oral hydroxyurea, to investigate the capacity of several other agents to further augment HbF synthesis. Recombinant human erythropoietin, in super-pharmacologic doses, increased F-reticulocyte production when given on a weekly sequential schedule (3 of 7 days) with hydroxyurea (4 of 7 days), but it was less effective on an alternate day schedule when hydroxyurea was given daily. Neither recombinant human interleukin 3 (IL-3) nor recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), when infused individually, increased F-reticulocytes in animals receiving daily hydroxyurea. Sequential, overlapping infusions of IL-3 and GM-CSF produced a small but statistically significant increase in F-reticulocytes in one of two hydroxyurea-treated animals. Infusions of sodium butyrate produced a substantial augmentation in F-reticulocyte production in animals chronically treated with hydroxyurea. Thus, our studies have identified several agents that may prove useful in combination with hydroxyurea to achieve clinically beneficial levels of HbF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1156-1164
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Hematology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • GM-CSF
  • HbF
  • IL-3
  • butyrate
  • erythropoietin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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