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Infection and immunity

Erythropoietin protects against murine cerebral malaria through actions on host cellular immunity.


PMID 24126529

Abstract

Cerebral malaria (CM) is associated with excessive host proinflammatory responses and endothelial activation. The hematopoietic hormone erythropoietin (EPO) possesses neuroprotective functions in animal models of ischemic-hypoxic, traumatic, and inflammatory injuries. In the Plasmodium berghei ANKA model of experimental CM (ECM), recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) has shown evident protection against ECM. To elucidate the mechanism of EPO in this ECM model, we investigated the effect of rhEPO on host cellular immune responses. We demonstrated that improved survival of mice with ECM after rhEPO treatment was associated with reduced endothelial activation and improved integrity of the blood-brain barrier. Our results revealed that rhEPO downregulated the inflammatory responses by directly inhibiting the levels and functions of splenic dendritic cells. Conversely, rhEPO treatment led to significant expansion of regulatory T cells and increased expression of the receptor cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4). The data presented here provide evidence of the direct effect of rhEPO on host cellular immunity during ECM.