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FASEB J. 2004 Jun;18(9):1031-3. Epub 2004 Apr 1.

Erythropoietin receptor expression in adult rat cardiomyocytes is associated with an acute cardioprotective effect for recombinant erythropoietin during ischemia-reperfusion injury.

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Laboratory of Signal Transduction, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA.


Erythropoietin (EPO), the principal hematopoietic cytokine that regulates mammalian erythropoiesis, exhibits diverse cellular effects in non-hematopoietic tissues. The physiologic functions of EPO are mediated by its specific cell-surface receptor EPOR. In this study, we demonstrate EPOR expression in adult rat cardiac myocytes and examine the direct effects of EPO on the heart to investigate whether recombinant EPO may exert an acute cardioprotective effect during ischemia-reperfusion injury. To determine whether EPO is cardioprotective, isolated rat hearts were perfused for 10 min in the Langendorff-mode with Krebs-Henseleit buffer in the absence or presence of brief recombinant EPO treatment while left-ventricular-developed pressure (LVDP) was measured continuously to assess contractile function. The hearts were then subjected to 20 min of normothermic global ischemia followed by 25 min of reperfusion. The post-ischemic recovery of LVDP in the untreated control hearts was 26 +/- 5% of their baseline LVDP, whereas hearts pretreated with EPO exhibited significantly improved post-ischemic recovery to 57 +/- 7%. We used 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to determine whether modulation of intracellular pH and/or high-energy phosphate levels during ischemia contributed to EPO-mediated cardioprotection. These experiments revealed that the rapid cardioprotective effect of EPO during ischemia-reperfusion injury was associated with preservation of ATP levels in the ischemic myocardium.

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