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Neurology Research International
Volume 2011, Article ID 453179, 8 pages
Review Article

Erythropoietin: Recent Developments in the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury

1Laboratory of Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, University of Milan, Polo H. San Paolo, Via A. di Rudinì 8, 20142 Milan, Italy
2Clinical Pharmacology, IRCCS Humanitas, Via Manzoni 56, Rozzano, 20089 Milan, Italy
3Cerebrovascular Unit, IRCCS, Istituto Neurologico C Besta, Via Celoria 11, 20133 Milan, Italy
4Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, University of Milan, Polo H. San Paolo, Via A. di Rudinì 8, 20142 Milan, Italy

Received 24 February 2011; Accepted 9 May 2011

Academic Editor: Jeff Bronstein

Copyright © 2011 Stephana Carelli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Erythropoietin (EPO), originally identified for its critical function in regulating production and survival of erythrocytes, is a member of the type 1 cytokine superfamily. Recent studies have shown that EPO has cytoprotective effects in a wide variety of cells and tissues. Here is presented the analysis of EPO effects on spinal cord injury (SCI), considering both animal experiments concerning to mechanisms of neurodegeneration in SCI and EPO as a neuroprotective agent, and some evidences coming from ongoing clinical trials. The evidences underling that EPO could be a promising therapeutic agent in a variety of neurological insults, including trauma, are mounting. In particular, it is highlighted that administration of EPO or other recently generated EPO analogues such as asialo-EPO and carbamylated-EPO demonstrate interesting preclinical and clinical characteristics, rendering the evaluation of these tissue-protective agents imperative in human clinical trials. Moreover the demonstration of rhEPO and its analogues’ broad neuroprotective effects in animal models of cord lesion and in human trial like stroke, should encourage scientists and clinicians to design clinical trials assessing the efficacy of these pharmacological compounds on SCI.