Over expression of hepcidin antimicrobial peptide is a common feature of iron-restricted anemia in humans. We investigated the erythroid response to either erythropoietin or RAP-011, a "murinized" ortholog of sotatercept, in C57BL/6 mice and in hepcidin antimicrobial peptide 1 over expressing mice. Sotatercept, a soluble, activin receptor type IIA ligand trap, is currently being evaluated for the treatment of anemias associated with chronic renal disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, β-thalassemia, and Diamond Blackfan anemia and acts by inhibiting signaling downstream of activin and other Transforming Growth Factor-β superfamily members. We found that erythropoietin and RAP-011 increased hemoglobin concentration in C57BL/6 mice and in hepcidin antimicrobial peptide 1 over expressing mice. While erythropoietin treatment depleted splenic iron stores in C57BL/6 mice, RAP-011 treatment did not deplete splenic iron stores in mice of either genotype. Bone marrow erythroid progenitors from erythropoietin-treated mice exhibited iron-restricted erythropoiesis, as indicated by increased median fluorescence intensity of transferrin receptor immunostaining by flow cytometry. In contrast, RAP-011-treated mice did not exhibit the same degree of iron-restricted erythropoiesis. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that RAP-011 can improve hemoglobin concentration in hepcidin antimicrobial peptide 1 transgenic mice. Our data support the hypothesis that RAP-011 has unique biologic effects which prevent or circumvent depletion of mouse splenic iron stores. RAP-011 may, therefore, be an appropriate therapeutic for trials in human anemias characterized by increased expression of hepcidin antimicrobial peptide and iron-restricted erythropoiesis.
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