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Contempo Updates
Clinician's Corner
January 5, 2005

New Avenues of Exploration for Erythropoietin

Author Affiliations

Contempo Updates Section Editor: Catherine Meyer, MD, Fishbein Fellow.


Author Affiliations: Division of Cellular and Molecular Cerebral Ischemia (Drs Maiese, Li, and Chong); Departments of Neurology and Anatomy & Cell Biology, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Dr Maiese), Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Mich.

JAMA. 2005;293(1):90-95. doi:10.1001/jama.293.1.90

Discovery that the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) and its receptor play a significant biological role in tissues outside of the hematopoietic system has fueled significant interest in EPO as a novel cytoprotective agent in both neuronal and vascular systems. Erythropoietin is now considered to have applicability in a variety of disorders that include cerebral ischemia, myocardial infarction, and chronic congestive heart failure. Erythropoietin modulates a broad array of cellular processes that include progenitor stem cell development, cellular integrity, and angiogenesis. As a result, cellular protection by EPO is robust and EPO inhibits the apoptotic mechanisms of injury, including the preservation of cellular membrane asymmetry to prevent inflammation. As the investigation into clinical applications for EPO that maximize efficacy and minimize toxicity progresses, a deeper appreciation for the novel roles that EPO plays in the brain and heart and throughout the entire body should be acquired.