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J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2004 Oct;44(4):473-9.

Timing of erythropoietin treatment for cardioprotection in ischemia/reperfusion.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Groningen University Institute for Drug Exploration, The Netherlands.


Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone known to stimulate hematopoiesis. However, recent research suggests additional properties of EPO, such as protection against ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury in various tissues. We studied the effect of timing of EPO administration on cardioprotection during I/R in the heart. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to 45 minutes of coronary occlusion, followed by 24 hours of reperfusion. Animals were randomized to receive saline or single dose of EPO (5,000 IU/kg) either 2 hours before I/R, at the start of ischemia, or after the onset of reperfusion. The ratio of infarct area/area at risk (planimetry), left ventricular (LV) function (pressure development), and apoptosis (number of active caspase-3 positive cells) were determined after 24-hour reperfusion. Administration of EPO during different time points resulted in a 19 to 23% (P < 0.05) reduction in the infarct area/area at risk, which was accompanied by a trend toward better LV hemodynamic parameters. Apoptosis was significantly attenuated in groups treated with EPO at the start of ischemia (29% reduction) and after the onset of reperfusion (38%), and to a lesser extent (16%) in the group pre-treated with EPO. Thus, in vivo administration of EPO at different time points protects the myocardial structure and preserves cardiac function during I/R. Cardioprotective effect of EPO is associated with inhibition of apoptosis.

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