Erythropoietin (EPO) is the principal growth factor regulating the production of red blood cells.
Recent studies demonstrated that exogenous EPO acts as a neuroprotectant and regulates neurogenesis.
Using a genetic approach, scientists evaluated the roles of endogenous EPO and its classical receptor (EPOR) in mammalian neurogenesis.
They demonstrated severe and identical embryonic neurogenesis defects in animals null for either the Epo or EpoR gene, suggesting that the classical EPOR is essential for EPO action during embryonic neurogenesis.
Furthermore, by generating conditional EpoR knock-down animals, they demonstrated that brain-specific deletion of EpoR leads to significantly reduced cell proliferation in the subventricular zone and impaired post-stroke neurogenesis.
EpoR conditional knockdown leads to a specific deficit in post-stroke neurogenesis through impaired migration of neuroblasts to the peri-infarct cortex.
These results suggest that both EPO and EPOR are essential for early embryonic neural development and that the classical EPOR is important for adult neurogenesis and for migration of regenerating neurons during post-injury recovery.
Another crucial factor in cell transplantation and therapy is G-CSF.
G-CSF is a potent hematopoietic factor that enhances survival and drives differentiation of myeloid lineage cells, resulting in the generation of neutrophilic granulocytes.
Scientists have shown that G-CSF passes the intact blood-brain barrier and reduces infarct volume in 2 different rat models of acute stroke.
G-CSF displays strong anti-apoptotic activity in mature neurons and activates multiple cell survival pathways.
Both G-CSF and its receptor are widely expressed by neurons in the CNS, and their expression is induced by ischemia, which suggests an autocrine protective signaling mechanism.
Surprisingly, the G-CSF receptor was also expressed by adult neural stem cells, and G-CSF induced neuronal differentiation in vitro.
G-CSF markedly improved long-term behavioral outcome after cortical ischemia, while stimulating neural progenitor response in vivo, providing a link to functional recovery.
Thus, G-CSF is an endogenous ligand in the CNS that has a dual activity beneficial both in counteracting acute neuronal degeneration and contributing to long-term plasticity after cerebral ischemia.
So it is possible to propose G-CSF as a potential new drug for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.
Both the combinations of these two factors could result in the simple answer to difficult neurological questions.