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BACKGROUND - Glaucoma is a complex neurodegeneration and a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Current therapeutic strategies, which are all directed towards lowering the intraocular pressure (IOP), do not stop progression of the disease. We have demonstrated that recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) gene delivery of a form of erythropoietin with attenuated erythropoietic activity (EpoR76E) can preserve retinal ganglion cells, their axons, and vision without decreasing IOP. The goal of this study was to determine if modulation of neuroinflammation or oxidative stress played a role in the neuroprotective activity of EPO.R76E.
METHODS - Five-month-old DBA/2J mice were treated with either rAAV.EpoR76E or a control vector and collected at 8 months of age. Neuroprotection was assessed by quantification of axon transport and visual evoked potentials. Microglia number and morphology and cytokine and chemokine levels were quantified. Message levels of oxidative stress-related proteins were assessed.
RESULTS - Axon transport and visual evoked potentials were preserved in rAAV.EpoR76E-treated mice. The number of microglia was decreased in retinas from 8-month-old rAAV.EpoR76E-treated mice, but proliferation was unaffected. The blood-retina barrier was also unaffected by treatment. Levels of some pro-inflammatory cytokines were decreased in retinas from rAAV.EpoR76E-treated mice including IL-1, IL-12, IL-13, IL-17, CCL4, and CCL5. TNFα messenger RNA (mRNA) was increased in retinas from 8-month-old mice compared to 3-month-old controls regardless of treatment. Expression of several antioxidant proteins was increased in retinas of rAAV.EpoR76E-treated 8-month-old mice.
CONCLUSIONS - Treatment with rAAV.EpoR76E preserves vision in the DBA/2J model of glaucoma at least in part by decreasing infiltration of peripheral immune cells, modulating microglial reactivity, and decreasing oxidative stress.
Despite extensive research, no therapeutic interventions have been shown to prevent AKI, accelerate recovery of AKI, or reduce progression of AKI to CKD in patients. This failure in translation has led investigators to speculate that the animal models being used do not predict therapeutic responses in humans. Although this issue continues to be debated, an important concern that has not been addressed is whether improvements in preclinical study design can be identified that might also increase the likelihood of translating basic AKI research into clinical practice using the current models. In this review, we have taken an evidence-based approach to identify common weaknesses in study design and reporting in preclinical AKI research that may contribute to the poor translatability of the findings. We focused on use of N-acetylcysteine or sodium bicarbonate for the prevention of contrast-induced AKI and use of erythropoietin for the prevention of AKI, two therapeutic approaches that have been extensively studied in clinical trials. On the basis of our findings, we identified five areas for improvement in preclinical study design and reporting. These suggested and preliminary guidelines may help improve the quality of preclinical research for AKI drug development.
Copyright © 2015 by the American Society of Nephrology.
Glaucoma, a common cause of blindness, is currently treated by intraocular pressure (IOP)-lowering interventions. However, this approach is insufficient to completely prevent vision loss. Here, we evaluate an IOP-independent gene therapy strategy using a modified erythropoietin, EPO-R76E, which has reduced erythropoietic function. We used two models of glaucoma, the murine microbead occlusion model and the DBA/2J mouse. Systemic recombinant adeno-associated virus-mediated gene delivery of EpoR76E (rAAV.EpoR76E) was performed concurrent with elevation of IOP. Axon structure and active anterograde transport were preserved in both models. Vision, as determined by the flash visual evoked potential, was preserved in the DBA/2J. These results show that systemic EpoR76E gene therapy protects retinal ganglion cells from glaucomatous degeneration in two different models. This suggests that EPO targets a component of the neurodegenerative pathway that is common to both models. The efficacy of rAAV.EpoR76E delivered at onset of IOP elevation supports clinical relevance of this treatment.
Erythropoietin (EPO) is critical for red blood cell production and is also an effective neuroprotective agent. However, it may contribute to pathological angiogenesis. Here we investigate the angiogenic potential of EPO and a mutant form with attenuated erythropoietic activity, EPO-R76E, on primary human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMECs) and in the adult retina. Assays of death, proliferation and tube formation were performed on HRMECs exposed to EPO, EPO-R76E or media alone. Postnatal day-9 wild-type mice were injected intramuscularly with adeno-associated virus vectors expressing either enhanced green fluorescent protein or EpoR76E. At 3 months, levels of EPO-R76E in the eye were quantified, and the health of the retinal vasculature was assessed by fluorescein angiography and isolectin immunolabeling. Immunohistochemistry, histology and electroretinogram (ERG) assessments were performed as measures of retinal health. Neither EPO nor EPO-R76E induced proliferation or tube formation in HRMECs under the conditions used. EPO-R76E decreased HRMEC death in a dose-dependent manner. Long-term systemic gene delivery of EPO-R76E was safe in terms of retinal vasculature, histology and the ERG in vivo. Our results show that EPO-R76E can block HRMEC death, consistent with its role in erythropoiesis and neuroprotection. In addition, long-term gene delivery of EPO-R76E is safe in the adult retina.
Trials raising concerns about erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, revisions to their labeling, and changes to practice guidelines and dialysis payment systems have provided strong stimuli to decrease erythropoiesis-stimulating agent use and increase intravenous iron administration in recent years. These factors have been associated with a rise in iron utilization, particularly among hemodialysis patients, and an unprecedented increase in serum ferritin concentrations. The mean serum ferritin concentration among United States dialysis patients in 2013 exceeded 800 ng/ml, with 18% of patients exceeding 1200 ng/ml. Although these changes are broad based, the wisdom of these practices is uncertain. Herein, we examine influences on and trends in intravenous iron utilization and assess the clinical trial, epidemiologic, and experimental evidence relevant to its safety and efficacy in the setting of maintenance dialysis. These data suggest a potential for harm from increasing use of parenteral iron in dialysis-dependent patients. In the absence of well powered, randomized clinical trials, available evidence will remain inadequate for making reliable conclusions about the effect of a ubiquitous therapy on mortality or other outcomes of importance to dialysis patients. Nephrology stakeholders have an urgent obligation to initiate well designed investigations of intravenous iron in order to ensure the safety of the dialysis population.
Copyright © 2015 by the American Society of Nephrology.
Erythropoietin (EPO) can protect the retina from acute damage, but long-term systemic treatment induces polycythemia. Intraocular gene delivery of EPO is not protective despite producing high levels of EPO likely due to its bellshaped dose curve. The goal of this study was to identify a therapeutic dose of continuously produced EPO in the eye. We packaged a mutated form of EPO (EPOR76E) that has equivalent neuroprotective activity as wild-type EPO and attenuated erythropoietic activity into a recombinant adeno-associated viral vector under the control of the tetracycline inducible promoter. This vector was injected into the subretinal space of homozygous postnatal 5-7 day retinal degeneration slow mice, that express the tetracycline transactivators from a retinal pigment epithelium specific promoter. At weaning, mice received a single intraperitoneal injection of doxycycline and were then maintained on water with or without doxycycline until postnatal day 60. Intraocular EPO levels and outer nuclear layer thickness were quantified and correlated. Control eyes contained 6.1 ± 0.1 (SEM) mU/ml EPO. The eyes of mice that received an intraperitoneal injection of doxycycline contained 11.8 ± 2.0 (SEM) mU/ml EPO-R76E. Treatment with doxycycline water induced production of 35.9 ± 2.4 (SEM) mU/ml EPO-R76E in the eye. The outer nuclear layer was approximately 8 μm thicker in eyes of mice that received doxycycline water as compared to the control groups. Our data indicates that drug delivery systems should be optimized to deliver at least 36 mU/ml EPO into the eye since this dose was effective for the treatment of a progressive retinal degeneration.
A classic physiologic response to systemic hypoxia is the increase in red blood cell production. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) orchestrate this response by inducing cell-type specific gene expression changes that result in increased erythropoietin (EPO) production in kidney and liver, in enhanced iron uptake and utilization and in adjustments of the bone marrow microenvironment that facilitate erythroid progenitor maturation and proliferation. In particular HIF-2 has emerged as the transcription factor that regulates EPO synthesis in the kidney and liver and plays a critical role in the regulation of intestinal iron uptake. Its key function in the hypoxic regulation of erythropoiesis is underscored by genetic studies in human populations that live at high-altitude and by mutational analysis of patients with familial erythrocytosis. This review provides a perspective on recent insights into HIF-controlled erythropoiesis and iron metabolism, and examines cell types that have EPO-producing capability. Furthermore, the review summarizes clinical syndromes associated with mutations in the O(2)-sensing pathway and the genetic changes that occur in high altitude natives. The therapeutic potential of pharmacologic HIF activation for the treatment of anemia is discussed.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Erythropoietin (Epo) is neuroprotective in a number of preparations, but can lead to unacceptably high and even lethal hematocrit levels. Recent reports show that modified Epo variants confer neuroprotection in models of glaucoma and retinal degeneration without raising hematocrit. In this study, neuroprotective effects of two Epo variants (EpoR76E and EpoS71E) were assessed in a model of Parkinson's disease. The constructs were packaged in recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vectors and injected intramuscularly. After 3 weeks, mice received five daily injections of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and were killed 5 weeks later. The MPTP-lesioned mice pretreated with rAAV.eGFP (negative control) exhibited a 7- to 9-Hz tremor and slower latencies to move on a grid test (akinesia). Both of these symptomatic features were absent in mice pretreated with either modified Epo construct. The rAAV.eGFP-treated mice lesioned with MPTP exhibited a 41% reduction in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons in the substantia nigra. The rAAV.EpoS71E construct did not protect nigral neurons, but neuronal loss in mice pretreated with rAAV.EpoR76E was only half that of rAAV.eGFP controls. Although dopamine levels were normal in all groups, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) was significantly reduced only in MPTP-lesioned mice pretreated with rAAV.eGFP, indicating reduced dopamine turnover. Analysis of TH-positive fibers in the striatum showed normalized density in MPTP-lesioned mice pretreated with rAAV.EpoS71E, suggesting that enhanced sprouting induced by EpoS71E may have been responsible for normal behavior and dopaminergic tone in these mice. These results show that systemically administered rAAV-generated non-erythropoietic Epo may protect against MPTP-induced parkinsonism by a combination of neuroprotection and enhanced axonal sprouting.
© 2012 The Authors. Genes, Brain and Behavior © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society.
Iron demand in bone marrow increases when erythropoiesis is stimulated by hypoxia via increased erythropoietin (EPO) synthesis in kidney and liver. Hepcidin, a small polypeptide produced by hepatocytes, plays a central role in regulating iron uptake by promoting internalization and degradation of ferroportin, the only known cellular iron exporter. Hypoxia suppresses hepcidin, thereby enhancing intestinal iron uptake and release from internal stores. While HIF, a central mediator of cellular adaptation to hypoxia, directly regulates renal and hepatic EPO synthesis under hypoxia, the molecular basis of hypoxia/HIF-mediated hepcidin suppression in the liver remains unclear. Here, we used a genetic approach to disengage HIF activation from EPO synthesis and found that HIF-mediated suppression of the hepcidin gene (Hamp1) required EPO induction. EPO induction was associated with increased erythropoietic activity and elevated serum levels of growth differentiation factor 15. When erythropoiesis was inhibited pharmacologically, Hamp1 was no longer suppressed despite profound elevations in serum EPO, indicating that EPO by itself is not directly involved in Hamp1 regulation. Taken together, we provide in vivo evidence that Hamp1 suppression by the HIF pathway occurs indirectly through stimulation of EPO-induced erythropoiesis.