Erythropoietin--a novel concept for neuroprotection

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2001 Aug;251(4):179-84. doi: 10.1007/s004060170038.


Neuroprotection as a means to prevent or oppose pathological neuronal loss in central nervous system disease of various pathophysiological origins represents a novel therapeutic approach. This approach is supported by extensive experimental evidence on cell culture and animal studies demonstrating beneficial effects of growth factors on neuronal survival and functional recovery. The clinical use of neuroprotective agents has been hampered by the toxicity of many of the compounds that showed promising therapeutic potential in animal studies. The focus of this review is on a novel neuroprotective approach with erythropoietin, a hematopoietic growth factor that: 1) is expressed in the human central nervous system, 2) is hypoxia-inducible, 3) has demonstrated remarkable neuroprotective potential in cell culture and animal models of disease, 4) has multiple protective effects (antiapoptotic, neurotrophic, antioxidant, angiogenic), and 5) is a clinically extremely well tolerated compound.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Erythropoietin / metabolism
  • Erythropoietin / pharmacology*
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / etiology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Erythropoietin / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Transcription Factors*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Receptors, Erythropoietin
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Erythropoietin