Erythropoietin in Human Milk: Physiology and Role in Infant Health

Richard D. Semba, Sandra E. Juul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Human milk contains substantial concentrations of erythropoietin, a hormone best known for its role in the regulation of erythropoiesis. Recent studies show that erythropoietin receptors are widely distributed in human tissues, including the gastrointestinal tract, endothelial cells, spinal cord, and brain, suggesting that erythropoietin plays a wider role in infant development. Mammary epithelial cells contribute to the production of erythropoietin in human milk, and erythropoietin concentrations appear to rise slowly in human milk during the first few months of lactation. Current data suggest that erythropoietin in human milk may play a pleiomorphic role in erythropoiesis, neurodevelopment, maturation of the gut, apoptosis, and immunity in the infant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-261
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2002


  • anemia
  • development
  • erythropoietin
  • human milk
  • immunity
  • infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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