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Eye (Lond). 2012 Jan;26(1):144-52. doi: 10.1038/eye.2011.254. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Safety and efficacy of intravitreal injection of recombinant erythropoietin for protection of photoreceptor cells in a rat model of retinal detachment.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Clinical Medical School, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China.



To elucidate the safety and efficacy of exogenous erythropoietin (EPO) for the protection of photoreceptor cells in a rat model of retinal detachment (RD).


Recombinant rat EPO (400 ng) was injected into the vitreous cavity of normal rats to observe the eye manifestations. Retinal function was assessed by flash electroretinograms. Histopathological examination of retinal tissue was performed at 14 days and 2 months after injection, respectively. To investigate the inhibitory effect of EPO on photoreceptor cell apoptosis in RD rats, 100, 200, or 400 ng EPO was injected into the vitreous cavity immediately after RD model establishment. Apoptosis of photoreceptor cells was determined at 3 days after injection. Caspase-3 activation was measured by western blot analysis and immunofluorescence, respectively, and the level of Bcl-X(L) expression was analyzed by western blot.


Intravitreal injection of EPO 400 ng into normal rats had no significant impact on retinal function, morphology, or structure. Apoptosis of retinal photoreceptor cells apparently increased after RD and was significantly reduced following EPO treatment. The thickness of the outer nuclear layer in the RD + 400 ng group was significantly thicker than that in other experimental RD groups both at 14 days and at 2 months after RD (P < 0.05). Western blot and immunofluorescence analyses showed decreased caspase-3 activation and increased Bcl-X(L) expression following EPO treatment.


Intravitreal injection of EPO 400 ng is safe, and EPO may suppress caspase-3 activation and enhance Bcl-X(L) expression, resulting in inhibition of apoptosis and protection of photoreceptor cells.

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