10 June 2014
Erythropoietin (EPO) regulation of red blood cell production and its induction at reduced oxygen tension provides for the important erythropoietic response to ischemic stress. The cloning and production of recombinant human EPO has led to its clinical use in patients with anemia for two and half decades and has facilitated studies of EPO action. Reports of animal and cell models of ischemic stress in vitro and injury suggest potential EPO benefit beyond red blood cell production including vascular endothelial response to increase nitric oxide production, which facilitates oxygen delivery to brain, heart and other non-hematopoietic tissues. This review discusses these and other reports of EPO action beyond red blood cell production, including EPO response affecting metabolism and obesity in animal models. Observations of EPO activity in cell and animal model systems, including mice with tissue specific deletion of EPO receptor (EpoR), suggest the potential for EPO response in metabolism and disease.