In the adult human, the kidney is the main organ for the production and release of erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is stimulating erythropoiesis by increasing the proliferation, differentiation and maturation of the erythroid precursors. In the last decades, enormous efforts were made in the purification, molecular encoding and description of the EPO gene. This led to an incredible increase in the understanding of the EPO-feedback-regulation loop at a molecular level, especially the oxygen-dependent EPO gene expression, a key function in the regulation loop. However, studies in humans at a systemic level are still very scanty. Therefore, it is the purpose of the present review to report on the main recent investigations on EPO production and release in humans under different environmental and experimental conditions, including: (i) studies on EPO circadian, monthly and even annual variations, (ii) studies in connection with short-, medium- and long-term exercise at sea-level which will be followed (iii) by studies performed at moderate and high altitude. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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