Brain erythropoietin receptor expression in Alzheimer disease and mild cognitive impairment

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2007 May;66(5):389-98. doi: 10.1097/nen.0b013e3180517b28.


Cellular mechanisms conferring neuroprotection in the brains of patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) remain incompletely understood. Erythropoietin (Epo) and the erythropoietin receptor (EpoR) are expressed in neural tissues and protect against oxidative and other stressors in various models of brain injury and disease. Our objective in this study was to determine whether EpoR is upregulated in the brains of persons with sporadic AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Postmortem hippocampus and temporal cortex from subjects with AD, MCI, and no cognitive impairment (NCI) were procured from the Religious Orders Study. Total immunoreactive EpoR protein was determined by Western blotting. Astrocytes expressing immunoreactive EpoR were quantified in 4 temporal and 6 hippocampal regions, and correlated with clinical, neuropsychologic, and neuropathologic indices. Total immunoreactive EpoR protein was markedly increased in AD and MCI temporal cortex versus NCI tissues. Composite measures of glial EpoR expression in temporal cortex layers I to IV were significantly greater in the MCI group compared with the NCI and AD groups. Hippocampal EpoR scores were increased in persons with MCI and AD relative to those with NCI. There was substantial subregional heterogeneity in disease-related EpoR expression patterns in AD and MCI temporal cortex and hippocampus. There was no association of EpoR-positive astrocytes with summary measures of global cognition or AD pathology. We conclude that upregulation of EpoR in temporal cortical and hippocampal astrocytes is an early, potentially neuroprotective, event in the pathogenesis of sporadic AD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Receptors, Erythropoietin / metabolism*
  • Regression Analysis


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Receptors, Erythropoietin