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Erythropoietin (EPO) is of great interest as a therapy for many of the central nervous system (CNS) diseases and its administration is protective in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Endogenous EPO is induced by hypoxic/ischemic injury, but little is known about its expression in other CNS diseases. We report here that EPO expression in the spinal cord is induced in mouse models of chronic or relapsing-remitting EAE, and is prominently localized to motoneurons. We found a parallel increase of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF)-1 alpha, but not HIF-2 alpha, at the mRNA level, suggesting a possible role of non-hypoxic factors in EPO induction. EPO mRNA in the spinal cord was co-expressed with interferon (IFN)-gamma and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and these cytokines inhibited EPO production in vitro in both neuronal and glial cells. Given the known inhibitory effect of EPO on neuroinflammation, our study indicates that EPO should be viewed as part of the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory network in MS.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Med

Publication Date





682 - 688


Animals, Cell Line, Tumor, Cytokines, Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental, Erythropoietin, Female, Gene Expression, Humans, Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit, Immunohistochemistry, Interferon-gamma, Mice, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Spinal Cord, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha