Functions of Erythropoietin

The erythropoietin molecules that enter the blood stream are carried to the bone marrow. After erythropoietin reaches the erythrocyte mother cells, it triggers the production of erythrocytes by stimulating the proliferation and differentiation of erythroid precursors in different stages, the first stages including burst-forming units (BFU-E) and the second stage including colony forming units (CFU-E).

Hypoxia triggers the production of erythropoietin. Hypoxia is a condition in which the body, or a region of the body, is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

At the top of the diagram is a pluripotent stem cell that appears as red oblong circle with white surrounding. Arrow down from this to similar cell labelled Burst-FUE cell that is a precursor cell. Arrow down to another precursor cell called CFUE cells which has 7 small pink circles within one red circle. Arrow down to a red circle with small dark red circle in the middle labelled proerythroblasts which is labelled a progenitor cell. Arrow down from this to erythroblasts which appear as pink circle filled with 4 red circles and is also a progenitor cell. All of the previously mentions cells are located in the bone marrow. Arrow down to a pink circle filled with 6 dark red boomerang shapes. This cell is labelled reticulocytes. This is labelled blood. Arrow from this to one red circle labelled red blood cell.

Figure 1 Red blood cells are ultimately formed from pluripotent stem cells in the bone marrow. However, several distinct phases of division and differentiation occur first meaning that each stem cell gives rise to a huge number of individual red blood cells.