ROLES FOR ERYTHROPOIETIN IN THE BRAIN
New evidence indicates that erythropoietin prevents the destruction of tissue surrounding the site of a brain injury (Michael Brines and Anthony Cerami, Emerging biological roles for erythropoietin in the nervous system. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6, 484-494, 2005). This function is possible by signalling through a non-haematopoietic receptor. Engineered derivatives of erythropoietin that have a high affinity for this receptor have been developed, and these show robust tissue-protective effects in different pre-clinical models without stimulating erythropoiesis. A recent successful clinical trials that used erythropoietin to treat patients who had suffered a stroke, encourages the evaluation of both this cytokine and non-erythropoietic derivatives as drugs to treat tissue injury.
Erythropoietin mediates an evolutionarily conserved, ancient immune response that limits damage to the heart, the nervous system and other tissues following injury.