The erythropoietin-derived peptide mimetic pHBSP affects cellular and cognitive consequences in a rat post–status epilepticus model

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The selection of a minimal active sequence of erythropoietin allowed the design of peptide mimetics that exert beneficial effects in the central nervous system but lack an erythropoietic effect. Erythropoietin has been suggested as a promising therapeutic and prophylactic for epilepsies based on its neuroprotective, neuroregenerative, and antiinflammatory potency. Therefore, it is of particular interest to evaluate whether the nonerythropoietic erythropoietin-derived peptide pHBSP can affect epileptogenesis.


In a post–status epilepticus model in rats, we determined the effects of pHBSP and of recombinant human erythropoietin with short-term administration following status epilepticus.

Key Findings:

Both pHBSP and erythropoietin further enhanced the status epilepticus–associated increase in hippocampal cell proliferation. Thereby, pHBSP seemed to promote neuronal differentiation and survival resulting in a significant increase in neurogenesis. Neither pHBSP nor erythropoietin affected the number of animals exhibiting spontaneous recurrent seizures as well as the seizure frequency in the chronic phase. In the Morris water maze, pHBSP attenuated cognitive deficits in epileptic animals.


In conclusion, the helix B–derived erythropoietin peptide pHBSP can modulate the cellular and cognitive consequences of a status epilepticus. The impact of pHBSP on spatial learning might indicate that the peptide allows beneficial effects on epileptogenesis-associated cognitive deficits. However, it needs to be considered that learning deficits were not abolished by pHBSP and that the effects were not observed consistently until the end of the study. Therefore, adjustment of timing, duration, and dose of peptide administration might be necessary to further evaluate the efficacy of pHBSP.

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