Erythropoietin-induced neurovascular protection, angiogenesis, and cerebral blood flow restoration after focal ischemia in mice

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2007 May;27(5):1043-54. doi: 10.1038/sj.jcbfm.9600417. Epub 2006 Nov 1.


Restoration of local blood supply in the post-ischemic brain plays a critical role in tissue repair and functional recovery. The present investigation explored beneficial effects of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) on vascular endothelial cell survival, angiogenesis, and restoration of local cerebral blood flow (LCBF) after permanent focal cerebral ischemia in adult mice. Saline or rhEPO (5,000 U/kg, intraperitoneal) was administered 30 mins before ischemia and once daily after ischemic stroke. Immunohistochemistry showed an enhancing effect of rhEPO on expression of EPO receptor (EPOR) of endothelial cells in the penumbra region 3 to 21 days after the ischemic insult. The treatment with rhEPO decreased ischemia-induced cell death and infarct volume 3 days after stroke. Specifically, rhEPO reduced the number of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase biotin-dUPT nick end labeling- and caspase-3-positive endothelial cells in the penumbra region. Colocalization of the vessel marker glucose transporter-1 (Glut-1) and cell proliferation marker 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine indicated enhanced angiogenic activity in rhEPO-treated mice 7 to 21 days after stroke. Western blot showed upregulation of the expression of angiogenic factors Tie-2, Angiopoietin-2, and vascular endothelial growth factor in rhEPO-treated animals. Local cerebral blood flow was measured by laser scanning imaging 3 to 21 days after stroke. At 14 days, LCBF in the penumbra was recovered to preischemia levels in rhEPO-treated mice but not in control mice. Our data suggest that rhEPO treatment upregulates the EPOR level in vascular endothelial cells, confers neurovascular protection, and enhances angiogenesis. We further show a promoting effect of rhEPO on LCBF recovery in the ischemic brain. These rhEPO-induced effects may contribute to therapeutic benefits in the treatment of ischemic stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites / pharmacology
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / pharmacology
  • Cerebral Infarction / pathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects*
  • Erythropoietin / pharmacology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects*
  • Recombinant Proteins


  • Antimetabolites
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Bromodeoxyuridine