Background: Recombinant human erythropoietin (rh-EPO) has been used as a drug to treat premature infant anemia for over a decade. In addition to its erythropoietic effect, rh-EPO has also been reported to have protective effects against brain injury.
Objectives: Our aim was to evaluate the levels of angiogenesis-related cells (CD34+ cells) and angiogenic factors (vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF, and angiopoietin-1, Ang-1) in a neonatal rat model of cerebral unilateral hypoxia-ischemia (HI) and to identify the effects of rh-EPO on angiogenic responses.
Methods: Postnatal day 3 (PD3) rats underwent permanent ligation of the right common carotid artery followed by 6% O2 for 4 h (HI) or sham operation and normoxic exposure (sham). Immediately after HI, the rats received a single intraperitoneal injection of rh-EPO (5 U/g) or saline. Angiogenesis-related cells (CD34+ cells) and angiogenic factors (VEGF and Ang-1) were examined on PD5, 7, 10 and 14.
Results: Compared with the sham rats, the number of CD34+ cells in HI rats increased from PD5 to 7 but decreased from PD10 to 14. VEGF and Ang-1 mRNA levels both increased from PD5 to 14. CD34+ cells, VEGF and Ang-1 were all upregulated in rh-EPO-treated rats compared with HI rats.
Conclusions: In the present study, we show the angiogenic effects of rh-EPO in a rat model of neonatal cerebral unilateral HI. Our results highlight the powerful therapeutic potential of rh-EPO treatment of HI premature brain for the enhancement of angiogenic responses.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.