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Exp Neurol. 2011 Aug;230(2):227-39. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.04.021. Epub 2011 May 6.

Neuroprotective potential of erythropoietin and its derivative carbamylated erythropoietin in periventricular leukomalacia.

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Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is the predominant pathology in premature infants, characterized by prominent cerebral white matter injury, and commonly caused by hypoxia-ischemia and inflammation. Activated microglia trigger white matter damage and play a major role in the development of PVL. Erythropoietin (EPO) and its derivative carbamylated erythropoietin (CEPO) have been shown to be neuroprotective in several brain disease models. Here we investigated whether EPO and CEPO could provide protection in mouse models of PVL induced by hypoxia-ischemia or hypoxia-ischemia-inflammation. We administered EPO or CEPO to mice with PVL, and found that both EPO and CEPO treatments decreased microglia activation, oligodendrocyte damage and myelin depletion. We also noted improved performance in neurological function assays. Inhibited disease progression in PVL mice by EPO or CEPO treatment was associated with decreased poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) activity. PARP-1 activity was increased dramatically in activated microglia in untreated mice with PVL. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the neuroprotective properties of EPO and CEPO were diminished after PARP-1 gene depletion. The therapeutic doses of EPO and CEPO used in this study did not interfere with normal oligodendrocyte maturation and myelination. Together, our data demonstrate that EPO and CEPO are neuroprotective in cerebral white matter injury via a novel microglial PARP-1 dependent mechanism, and hold promise as a future treatment for PVL and other hypoxic-ischemic/inflammatory white matter diseases.

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