Novel roles of cardiac-derived erythropoietin in cardiac development and function Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The role of erythropoietin (EPO) has extended beyond hematopoiesis to include cytoprotection, inotropy, and neurogenesis. Extra-renal EPO has been reported for multiple tissue/cell types, but the physiological relevance remains unknown. Although the EPO receptor is expressed by multiple cardiac cell types and human recombinant EPO increases contractility and confers cytoprotection against injury, whether the heart produces physiologically meaningful amounts of EPO in vivo is unclear. We show a distinct circadian rhythm of cardiac EPO mRNA expression in adult mice and increased mRNA expression during embryogenesis, suggesting physiological relevance to cardiac EPO production throughout life. We then generated constitutive, cardiomyocyte-specific EPO knockout mice driven by the Mlc2v promoter (EPOfl/fl:Mlc2v-cre+/-; EPOΔ/Δ-CM). During cardiogenesis, cardiac EPO mRNA expression and cellular proliferation were reduced in EPOΔ/Δ-CM hearts. However, in adult EPOΔ/Δ- CM mice, total heart weight was preserved through increased cardiomyocyte cross-sectional area, indicating the reduced cellular proliferation was compensated for by cellular hypertrophy. Echocardiography revealed no changes in cardiac dimensions, with modest reductions in ejection fraction, stroke volume, and tachycardia, whereas invasive hemodynamics showed increased cardiac contractility and lusitropy. Paradoxically, EPO mRNA expression in the heart was elevated in adult EPOΔ/Δ-CM, along with increased serum EPO protein content and hematocrit. Using RNA fluorescent in situ hybridization, we found that Epo RNA colocalized with endothelial cells in the hearts of adult EPOΔ/Δ-CM mice, identifying the endothelial cells as a cell responsible for the EPO hyper-expression. Collectively, these data identify the first physiological roles for cardiomyocyte-derived EPO. We have established cardiac EPO mRNA expression is a complex interplay of multiple cell types, where loss of embryonic cardiomyocyte EPO production results in hyper-expression from other cells within the adult heart.


  • Allwood, Melissa A
  • Edgett, Brittany A
  • Platt, Mathew J
  • Marrow, Jade P
  • Coyle-Asbil, Bridget
  • Holjak, Emma JB
  • Nelson, Victoria L
  • Bangali, Swara
  • Alshamali, Razan
  • Jacyniak, Kathy
  • Klein, Jorden M
  • Farquharson, Laura
  • Romanova, Nadya
  • Northrup, Victoria
  • Ogilvie, Leslie M
  • Ayoub, Anmar
  • Ask, Kjetil
  • Vickaryous, Matthew K
  • Hare, Gregory MT
  • Brunt, Keith R
  • Simpson, Jeremy A

publication date

  • March 2024