Mutant Erythropoietin Without Erythropoietic Activity Is Neuroprotective Against Ischemic Brain Injury
Background and Purpose—Erythropoietin (EPO) confers potent neuroprotection against ischemic injury. However, treatment for stroke requires high doses and multiple administrations of EPO, which may cause deleterious side effects due to its erythropoietic activity. This study identifies a novel nonerythropoietic mutant EPO and investigates its potential neuroprotective effects and underlying mechanism in an animal model of cerebral ischemia.
Methods—We constructed a series of mutant EPOs, each containing a single amino acid mutation within the erythropoietic motif, and tested their erythropoietic activity. Using cortical neuronal cultures exposed to N-methyl-d-aspartate neurotoxicity and a murine model of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion, neuroprotection and neurofunctional outcomes were assessed as well as activation of intracellular signaling pathways.
Results—The serine to isoleucine mutation at position 104 (S104I-EPO) completely abolished the erythropoietic and platelet-stimulating activity of EPO. Administration of S104I-EPO significantly inhibited N-methyl-d-aspartate-induced neuronal death in primary cultures and protected against cerebral infarction and neurological deficits with an efficacy similar to that of wild-type EPO. Both S104I-EPO and wild-type EPO activated similar prosurvival signaling pathways such as phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT, mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, and STAT5. Inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT or mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 signaling pathways significantly attenuated the neuroprotective effects of S104I-EPO, indicating that activation of these pathways underlies the neuroprotective mechanism of mutant EPO against cerebral ischemia.
Conclusions—S104I-EPO confers neuroprotective effects comparable to those of wild-type EPO against ischemic brain injury with the added benefit of lacking erythropoietic and platelet-stimulating side effects. Our novel findings suggest that the nonerythropoietic mutant EPO is a legitimate candidate for ischemic stroke intervention.
- Received May 2, 2012.
- Revision received July 26, 2012.
- Accepted August 16, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.