Therapeutic potential of erythropoietin in cardiovascular disease: Erythropoiesis and beyond
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- Westenbrink, B.D., Voors, A.A., Ruifrok, WP.T. et al. Curr Heart Fail Rep (2007) 4: 127. doi:10.1007/s11897-007-0030-5
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Erythropoietin (EPO) is a glycoprotein hormone implicated in the regulation of red blood cell production. Anemia is common in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients and associated with an inappropriately low EPO-production, suggesting a role for its recombinant human form (rhEPO) in treatment. Although safety concerns have been raised regarding treatment with rhEPO in patients with chronic kidney disease, treatment with rhEPO in patients with CHF has so far been safe and well tolerated. The effect of rhEPO on outcome in anemic CHF patients is under investigation in a phase III clinical trial. In addition to its erythropoietic effects, EPO has been detected in the cardiovascular system, fueling intense research into possible non-hematopoietic effects. EPO has been shown to exert protective effects on the heart during acute myocardial ischemia and improve cardiac function in experimental CHF. Acute protection is mediated through reduction of apoptotic cell death. Improvement of cardiac function in CHF is related to myocardial neovascularization. EPO exhibits a vast array of beneficial effects in cardiovascular disease. In addition to the correction of anemia in CHF, rhEPO might benefit patients with cardiovascular disease.