Erythropoietin administration protects retinal neurons from acute ischemia-reperfusion injury

Anna K. Junk, Antonios Mammis, Sean I. Savitz, Manjeet Singh, Steven Roth, Samit Malhotra, Pearl S. Rosenbaum, Anthony Cerami, Michael Brines, Daniel M. Rosenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

400 Scopus citations


Erythropoietin (EPO) plays an important role in the brain's response to neuronal injury. Systemic administration of recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) protects neurons from injury after middle cerebral artery occlusion, traumatic brain injury, neuroinflammation, and excitotoxicity. Protection is in part mediated by antiapoptotic mechanisms. We conducted parallel studies of rhEPO in a model of transient global retinal ischemia induced by raising intraocular pressure, which is a clinically relevant model for retinal diseases. We observed abundant expression of EPO receptor (EPO-R) throughout the ischemic retina. Neutralization of endogenous EPO with soluble EPO-R exacerbated ischemic injury, which supports a crucial role for an endogenous EPO/EPO-R system in the survival and recovery of neurons after an ischemic insult. Systemic administration of rhEPO before or immediately after retinal ischemia not only reduced histopathological damage but also promoted functional recovery as assessed by electroretinography. Exogenous EPO also significantly diminished terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP end labeling labeling of neurons in the ischemic retina, implying an antiapoptotic mechanism of action. These results further establish EPO as a neuroprotective agent in acute neuronal ischemic injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10659-10664
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes

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