Anemia in chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and is treated by long-acting erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). Although the results of previous studies have shown that hemoglobin levels could not be maintained at the initiation of dialysis in CKD patients treated with recombinant human erythropoietin, it remains undetermined whether long-acting ESAs are effective in preventing the progression of anemia at the initiation of dialysis. In the present study, hemoglobin levels in 40 CKD patients treated with darbepoetin alfa (DA) and 15 CKD patients treated with a continuous erythropoietin receptor activator (CERA) were retrospectively compared during the 6 months period before the initiation of dialysis. Results showed that DA and CERA both maintained hemoglobin levels at around 10 g/dL from 6 months to 1 month before dialysis. However, hemoglobin levels at the initiation of dialysis significantly decreased to 9.1 ± 1.2 g/dL in the DA group and to 9.0 ± 1.0 g/dL in the CERA group. Although the total doses of ESAs used during the 6-month period were similar between the two groups, DA-treated CKD patients received subcutaneous injections more frequently than did patients treated with CERA. These results suggest that CKD patients require more intense ESA therapy to prevent a decline in hemoglobin levels at the initiation of dialysis, including those treated with long-acting ESAs. The results also raise the possibility that CERA is more useful than DA for reducing the number of injections during the pre-dialysis period.
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