Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Post-ischemic continuous infusion of erythropoeitin enhances recovery of lost memory function after global cerebral ischemia in the rat

Johan Undén1, Carin Sjölund2, John-Kalle Länsberg3, Tadeusz Wieloch2*, Karsten Ruscher2 and Bertil Romner4

Author affiliations

1 Department of Perioperative Medicine and Intensive Care, Skane University Hospital, Malmö, S-20502, Sweden

2 Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Neurosurgery, Laboratory for Experimental Brain Research, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Lund University, BMC A13, Lund, S-22184, Sweden

3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Section for Paediatrics, The BUT Team, Lund University, Lund, S-22185, Sweden

4 Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Neurosurgery, Lund University, Lund, S-22185, Sweden

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-27

Published: 12 March 2013



Erythropoietin (EPO) and its covalently modified analogs are neuroprotective in various models of brain damage and disease. We investigated the effect on brain damage and memory performance, of a continuous 3-day intravenous infusion of EPO, starting 20 min after a transient 10 minute period of global cerebral ischemia in the rat.


We found no effect on selective neuronal damage in the CA1 region of the hippocampus, neocortical damage and damage to the striatum assessed at 7 days after ischemia. Also, no differences were observed in sensori-motor scores between EPO treated and saline treated ischemic animals. In contrast, memory performance was significantly improved in the EPO treated group. Saline treated injured animals (n = 7) failed in a test assessing recovery of spatial memory (6/6 and 5/6), while EPO treated animals had few and none failures (0/7 and 1/7).


We conclude that although post-ischemic treatment with EPO is not neuroprotective in a model of cardiac arrest brain ischemia, its markedly positive effect on brain plasticity and recovery of memory function warrants consideration as treatment of cardiac arrest patients.