VOL. 2, No. 4, October 2005

S. Prutchi-Sagiv, et al. [2005] Med Hypotheses Res 2: 587-596.

Erythropoietin as an Immunotherapeutic Agent: New
Uses for an Old Drug?

Sara Prutchi-Sagiv, Drorit Neumann* and Moshe Mittelman*

Abstract. Broadly beyond its erythropoietic functions, the biological effects of
erythropoietin (Epo) have been demonstrated in other tissues outside the erythropoietic
compartment, such as the brain, heart, and uterus. In addition, Epo has also been shown to
mediate a wealth of effects on the immune system. These effects have been confirmed both in
the cellular and humoral compartments of the adaptive response and also in the innate
immune response. The most prominent effects of Epo shown in the adaptive immune
response include: normalization of the CD4:CD8 T cell ratio, improvement of T cell
functionality, increase of antibody production in response to antigen, and change in the
cytokine profile. With respect to the innate immune reactions, Epo reduces macrophage and
granulocyte-related oxidative stress and inflammation. Taken together, Epo may be
considered as a candidate therapeutic agent applicable in a variety of cases of immune
dysfunction and inflammation. Here we review the information accumulated to date
regarding the immunological properties of Epo, but the molecular mechanisms underlying
these effects still remain to be resolved.

*Address all correspondence to: Dr. M. Mittelman, Department of Medicine A,
Sourasky Medical Center, 6 Weizmann St., 64239 Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Dr. D. Neumann, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Sackler Faculty of
Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, 69978 Tel-Aviv, Israel.
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