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      Recombinant human erythropoietin protects the myocardium from ischemia-reperfusion injury and promotes beneficial remodeling

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          Abstract

          Erythropoietin (EPO), originally identified for its critical hormonal role in promoting erythrocyte survival and differentiation, is a member of the large and diverse cytokine superfamily. Recent studies have identified multiple paracrineautocrine functions of EPO that coordinate local responses to injury by maintaining vascular autoregulation and attenuating both primary (apoptotic) and secondary (inflammatory) causes of cell death. Experimental evidence also supports a role for EPO in repair and regeneration after brain and spinal cord injury, including the recruitment of stem cells into the region of damage. Tissue expression of the EPO receptor is widespread, especially during development, and includes the heart. However, it is currently unknown as to whether EPO plays a physiological function in adult myocardial tissue. We have assessed the potential protective role of EPO in vitro with adult rat cardiomyocytes, and in vivo in a rat model of myocardial infarction with reperfusion. The results show that EPO markedly prevents the apoptosis of cultured adult rat myocardiocytes subjected to 28 h of hypoxia (approximately 3% normal oxygen). Additional studies employing a rat model of coronary ischemia-reperfusion showed that the administration of recombinant human EPO (5,000 units/kg of body weight; i.p. daily for 7 days) reduces cardiomyocyte loss by approximately 50%, an extent sufficient to normalize hemodynamic function within 1 week after reperfusion. These observations not only suggest a potential therapeutic role for recombinant human EPO in the treatment of myocardial ischemia and infarction by preventing apoptosis and attenuating postinfarct deterioration in hemodynamic function, but also predict that EPO is likely a tissue-protective cytokine in other organs as well.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Reperfusion injury induces apoptosis in rabbit cardiomyocytes.

          The most effective way to limit myocardial ischemic necrosis is reperfusion, but reperfusion itself may result in tissue injury, which has been difficult to separate from ischemic injury. This report identifies elements of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in myocytes as a response to reperfusion but not ischemia. The hallmark of apoptosis, nucleosomal ladders of DNA fragments (approximately 200 base pairs), was detected in ischemic/reperfused rabbit myocardial tissue but not in normal or ischemic-only rabbit hearts. Granulocytopenia did not prevent nucleosomal DNA cleavage. In situ nick end labeling demonstrated DNA fragmentation predominantly in myocytes. The pattern of nuclear chromatin condensation was distinctly different in reperfused than in persistently ischemic tissue by transmission electron microscopy. Apoptosis may be a specific feature of reperfusion injury in cardiac myocytes, leading to late cell death.
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            Erythropoietin-mediated neuroprotection involves cross-talk between Jak2 and NF-kappaB signalling cascades.

            Erythropoietin, a kidney cytokine regulating haematopoiesis (the production of blood cells), is also produced in the brain after oxidative or nitrosative stress. The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) upregulates EPO following hypoxic stimuli. Here we show that preconditioning with EPO protects neurons in models of ischaemic and degenerative damage due to excitotoxins and consequent generation of free radicals, including nitric oxide (NO). Activation of neuronal EPO receptors (EPORs) prevents apoptosis induced by NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) or NO by triggering cross-talk between the signalling pathways of Janus kinase-2 (Jak2) and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB). We show that EPOR-mediated activation of Jak2 leads to phosphorylation of the inhibitor of NF-kappaB (IkappaB), subsequent nuclear translocation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB, and NF-kappaB-dependent transcription of neuroprotective genes. Transfection of cerebrocortical neurons with a dominant interfering form of Jak2 or an IkappaBalpha super-repressor blocks EPO-mediated prevention of neuronal apoptosis. Thus neuronal EPORs activate a neuroprotective pathway that is distinct from previously well characterized Jak and NF-kappaB functions. Moreover, this EPO effect may underlie neuroprotection mediated by hypoxic-ischaemic preconditioning.
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              A potential role for erythropoietin in focal permanent cerebral ischemia in mice.

              The present study describes, for the first time, a temporal and spatial cellular expression of erythropoietin (Epo) and Epo receptor (Epo-R) with the evolution of a cerebral infarct after focal permanent ischemia in mice. In addition to a basal expression of Epo in neurons and astrocytes, a postischemic Epo expression has been localized specifically to endothelial cells (1 day), microglia/macrophage-like cells (3 days), and reactive astrocytes (7 days after occlusion). Under these conditions, the Epo-R expression always precedes that of Epo for each cell type. These results support the hypothesis that there is a continuous formation of Epo, with its corresponding receptor, during the active evolution of a focal cerebral infarct and that the Epo/Epo-R system might be implicated in the processes of neuroprotection and restructuring (such as angiogenesis and gliosis) after ischemia. To support this hypothesis, a significant reduction in infarct volume (47%; P < 0.0002) was found in mice treated with recombinant Epo 24 hours before induction of cerebral ischemia. Based on the above, we propose that the Epo/Epo-R system is an endogenous mechanism that protects the brain against damages consequent to a reduction in blood flow, a mechanism that can be amplified by the intracerebroventricular application of exogenous recombinant Epo.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                April 15 2003
                March 27 2003
                April 15 2003
                : 100
                : 8
                : 4802-4806
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.0630444100
                153636
                12663857
                © 2003
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