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Cell Death Differ. 2004 Jul;11 Suppl 1:S37-44.

Erythropoietin as an antiapoptotic, tissue-protective cytokine.

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Laboratory of Neuroimmunology, Mario Negri Institute, Milan, Italy.


Erythropoietin (EPO) increases the number of circulating erythrocytes primarily by preventing apoptosis of erythroid progenitors. In addition to this proerythroid action, results of recent studies show that systemically administered EPO is protective in vivo, in several animal models of neuronal injury. In vitro, EPO prevents neuronal apoptosis induced by a variety of stimuli. This review summarizes the neuroprotective actions of EPO and discusses the underlying mechanisms in terms of signal transduction pathways involved. The understanding of these mechanisms will help differentiate the neuroprotective actions of EPO from its role in the bone marrow.

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