Emergence of the Erythropoietin/Erythropoietin Receptor System as a Novel Cardiovascular Therapeutic Target

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Abstract

Although hypoxia and ischemia are known to be involved in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, specific therapeutic targets still remain elusive. To address this important issue, we have performed 2 series of experimental studies, aiming at erythropoietin (Epo)/Epo receptor (EpoR) based on the following backgrounds. Epo has long been regarded as a hematopoietic hormone that acts exclusively in the proliferation and differentiation of erythroid progenitors. Although recent studies have demonstrated that EpoR is expressed in the cardiovascular system, the potential protective role of the vascular Epo/EpoR system in vivo remains to be examined. We hypothesized that the vascular Epo/EpoR system plays an important protective role against the development of cardiovascular disease. Using vascular EpoR-deficient mouse, we demonstrated that the vascular Epo/EpoR system plays a crucial role for endothelial function and vascular homeostasis. The vascular Epo/EpoR system is important for the activation of the vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 system, inhibits hypoxia-induced pulmonary endothelial damage and promotes ischemia-induced angiogenesis in vivo. These results indicate that the vascular Epo/EpoR system plays an important protective role against hypoxia/ischemia, demonstrating that this system is a novel therapeutic target in cardiovascular medicine.

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