Brain and cancer: the protective role of erythropoietin

Giovanni Grasso, Giovanni Grasso, Emanuela Cavallaro, Fulvio Floccari, Michele Buemi, Lorena Nostro, Chiara Caccamo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Erythropoietin (Epo) is a pleiotropic agent, that is to say, it can act on several cell types indifferent ways. An independent system Epo/Epo receptor (EpoR) was detected in brain, leading tothe hypothesis that this hormone could be involved in cerebral functions. Epo/EpoR expressionchanges during ontogenesis, thus indicating the importance of this system in neurodevelopment.Moreover, the hypoxia-induced production of Epo in the adult brain suggests that it could exert aneurotrophic and neuroprotective effect in case of brain injury. Epo could also influence neuro-transmission, inducing neurotransmitters (NT) release. Epo therapy in anemic cancer patients isstill a controversial issue, because of its possible action as a growth and an angiogenic factor. In ourspeculative hypothesis Epo could be involved in a ‘‘two steps process’’ that, after a neo-vascularization phase, leads to its down regulation. Moreover, Epo-activated signaling pathwayscould be modulated as possible targets to interfere in neoplastic cells cycle. In conclusion,treatment with rHuEpo could change therapeutical perspectives in different pathological condi-tions, such as central nervous system (CNS) diseases, but further studies are needed to clarify itsphysiopathological activities in different clinical fields.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-259
Number of pages15
JournalMedicinal Research Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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