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Regulation of erythropoiesis

Colin A Sieff, MB, BCh, FRCPath
Section Editor
Stanley L Schrier, MD
Deputy Editor
Jennifer S Tirnauer, MD


The production of erythrocytes is a tightly regulated process. During steady state hematopoiesis, approximately 1010 red blood cells are produced per hour in the bone marrow to maintain the hemoglobin level within fairly narrow limits. Production can be rapidly increased in the setting of ongoing blood loss or hemolysis.

This topic review will discuss the elements that underlie erythropoiesis. A general discussion of hematopoiesis and stem cell function is presented separately. (See "Overview of hematopoietic stem cells".)


Erythropoiesis begins with the differentiation of a small pool of multipotent stem cells into the most primitive erythroid progenitors. These progenitors develop into recognizable erythroid precursors, which subsequently follow a specific differentiation program that culminates in the emergence of mature erythrocytes. (See 'Erythroid progenitor cells' below.)

This process is driven by successive combinations of transcription factors that dictate the expression of adhesion and hematopoietic growth factor receptors (HGFRs). (See 'Transcription factors' below.)

Adhesion receptors play an important role in the localization and release of maturing cells from specific niches in bone marrow. (See 'Stroma' below.)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 19, 2017.
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