Erythropoietin hormone molecule

Erythropoietin hormone molecule

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Credit: LAGUNA DESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Erythropoietin hormone molecule. Computer model showing the structure of the human hormone Erythropoietin (EPO). Here the secondary structure can be seen in front of the tertiary structure. Erythropoietin regulates blood oxygen levels in the body. When levels are low (hypoxia) it is released by the kidneys and travels to the bone marrow, where it stimulates red blood cell precursor cells to mature into red blood cells (erythrocytes). This allows the blood to carry more oxygen. Because of this role it is sometimes used illegally as a performance-enhancing drug by athletes.

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