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Erythropoietin and erythropoietin receptor in human ischemic/hypoxic brain

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Using immunohistochemistry, expression of erythropoietin (EPO), a hypoxia-inducible neuroprotective factor, and its receptor (EPOR) were investigated in human brain tissue after ischemia/hypoxia. Autopsy brains of neuropathologically normal subjects were compared to those with ischemic infarcts or hypoxic damage. In normal brain, weak EPO/EPOR immunoreactivity was mainly neuronal. In fresh infarcts, EPO immunoreactivity appeared in vascular endothelium, EPOR in microvessels and neuronal fibers. In older infarcts reactive astrocytes exhibited EPO/EPOR immunoreactivity. Acute hypoxic brain damage was associated with vascular EPO expression, older hypoxic damage with EPO/EPOR immunoreactivity in reactive astrocytes. The pronounced up-regulation of EPO/EPOR in human ischemic/hypoxic brains underlines their role as an endogenous neuroprotective system and suggests a novel therapeutic potential in cerebrovascular disease for EPO, a clinically well-characterized and safe compound.

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Revised, accepted: 8 August 2000

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Sirén, AL., Knerlich, F., Poser, W. et al. Erythropoietin and erythropoietin receptor in human ischemic/hypoxic brain. Acta Neuropathol 101, 271–276 (2001).

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