The concentration of plasma erythropoietin was determined by radioimmunoassay during the progression of and subsequent recovery from iron-deficiency anemia in the rat. During the development of anemia, the plasma erythropoietin level rose as the hemoglobin (Hgb) concentration declined, reaching maximal levels when the Hgb was lowest. During the recovery from iron-deficiency anemia after institution of the control diet, the plasma erythropoietin concentration rapidly declined to baseline or below baseline levels even before the Hgb had completely returned to control values. This early fall in the erythropoietin level was associated with a sustained decrease in blood oxygen affinity (increase in P50). The rise in P50 was associated with an increase in the number of circulating reticulocytes in addition to and independently of an increase in the concentration of 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (DPG) in red cells. Therefore, reticulocytosis may play a part in the recovery from anemia, not only by replenishing the red cell pool but also by temporarily facilitating oxygen delivery to the tissues.

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