Regulation of endogenous erythropoietin production

  • David R. Mole
  • Peter J. Ratcliffe
Part of the Milestones in Drug Therapy book series (MDT)


The principal function of the red cell is to convey oxygen from the lungs to the tissues through the oxygen transport molecule, haemoglobin, a concept finally established in the 19th Century after major advances in biology and chemistry over the preceding two centuries. The description of the blood circulation by William Harvey (1578–1657) in De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus in 1628 framed the question as to the purpose of moving such large volumes of fluid around the body. Richard Lower (1631–1691) working in Oxford with Robert Hooke (1635–1702) noted that whereas the blood leaving the heart for the lungs was blue, that returning from the lungs to the heart was red, concluding that ‘Nitrous spirit of the air, vital to life is mixed with the blood during transit through the lungs’. After the first consistent measurements of oxygen in blood, by Gustav Magnus, the role of the blood circulation in delivering oxygen to the tissues was confirmed by showing that there was more oxygen in arterial than venous blood [1]. Finally, a specific role for erythrocytes in oxygen transport was established by the demonstration of reversible binding of oxygen to the pigmented haemoglobin that accounted for the colour change [2, 3].


Prolyl Hydroxylase Domain Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Endogenous Erythropoietin Production Atrial Naturetic Peptide 
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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Mole
    • 1
  • Peter J. Ratcliffe
    • 1
  1. 1.Headington CampusUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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