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Mol Med Rep. 2013 Nov;8(5):1315-22. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2013.1666. Epub 2013 Sep 4.

Erythropoietin reduces brain injury after intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke in rats.

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Department of Neurology, The Second Affiliated Hospital, Chongqing University of Medical Sciences, Chongqing 400010, P.R. China.


Erythropoietin (EPO) has been shown to be neuroprotective in various models of neuronal injury. The aim of the present study was to investigate the beneficial effect of recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) following intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms. ICH was induced using autologous blood injection in adult rats. rhEPO (5000 IU/kg) or vehicle was administered to rats with ICH 2 h following surgery and every 24 h for 1 or 3 days. To study the involvement of the PI3K signaling pathway in the rhEPO‑mediated effect, the PI3K inhibitor wortmannin (15 µg/kg), was intravenously administered to rats with ICH 90 min prior to rhEPO treatment. Brain edema was measured 3 days following ICH and behavioral outcomes were measured at 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28 days following ICH using the modified neurological severity score (mNSS) and the corner turn test. Proinflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor (TNF)‑α, interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6, in the ipsilateral striatum were analyzed using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay 24 h following ICH. Neuronal apoptosis in the perihematomal area was determined by NeuN and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) double-staining. The results showed that rhEPO treatment reversed ICH, increased brain water content, upregulated proinflammatory cytokines, neuronal loss and apoptosis in the perihematomal area and rescued behavioral deficits in injured rats. Inhibiting the PI3K pathway with wortmannin abolished the rhEPO‑mediated neuroprotective effects. Moreover, western blot analysis showed that rhEPO induced the upregulation of Akt phosphorylation and downregulation of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)‑3β phosphorylation, which were reversed by pretreatment with wortmannin, indicating the involvement of PI3K signaling in rhEPO-mediated anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory effects following ICH. In conclusion, these results suggested that rhEPO may exert its beneficial effects in ICH through the activation of the PI3K signaling pathway.

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