Bench-to-bedside review: Erythropoietin and its derivatives as therapies in critical care
Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, The William Harvey Research Institute, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK
Critical Care 2012, 16:229 doi:10.1186/cc11315Published: 26 July 2012
Erythropoietin (EPO) is known to have numerous biological functions. Its primary function in the body is to increase red blood cell numbers by way of preventing the apoptosis of erythroid progenitor cells via the homodimeric EPO receptor. The discovery that the local production of EPO within the brain in response to hypoxia or ischemia protects neurons against injury via an anti-apoptotic effect formed the basis of the hypothesis that the local generation of EPO limits the extent of injury. Although the hypothesis proved to be true in pre-clinical models of ischemia/reperfusion injury and inflammation, the randomized, controlled clinical trials that followed demonstrated serious adverse events of EPO due to activation of the hematopoietic system. Consequently, derivatives of EPO that lacked erythropoietic activity were discovered to reduce injury in many pre-clinical models associated with ischemia and inflammation. Unfortunately, there are no published clinical trials to determine the efficacy of non-erythropoietic derivatives of EPO in humans.