Erythropoietin induces positive inotropic and lusitropic effects in murine and human myocardium

David Hefer, Ting Yi, Donald E. Selby, David E. Fishbaugher, Sarah M. Tremble, Kelly J. Begin, Prospero Gogo, Martin M. LeWinter, Markus Meyer, Bradley M. Palmer, Peter VanBuren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Initial clinical studies indicate a potential beneficial effect of erythropoietin (EPO) in patients with anemia and heart failure. Here, we investigate the direct contractile effects of erythropoietin on myocardial tissue. Treatment with EPO (50U/mL) using excitable murine and human left ventricular muscle preparations resulted in a 37% and 62% increase in twitch tension, respectively (P<0.05). Isolated murine cardiomyocytes exposed to EPO demonstrated a 41% increase in peak sarcomere shortening (P=0.012). Using compounds that specifically stimulate a non-erythropoietic EPO receptor yielded similar increases in contractile dynamics. Cardiomyocyte Ca 2+dynamics showed an 18% increase in peak calcium in EPO treated cardiomyocytes over controls (P=0.03). Studies in muscle strips skinned after EPO treatment demonstrated a phosphorylation dependant increase in the viscous modulus as well as an increase in oscillatory work. The EPO mediated increase in peak sarcomere shortening was abrogated by PI3-K blockade via wortmannin and by non-isozyme specific PKC blockade by chelerythrine. Finally, EPO treatment resulted in an increase in PKCε in the particulate cellular fraction, indicating activation of this isoform. EPO exhibits direct positive inotropic and lusitropic effects in cardiomyocytes and ventricular muscle preparation. These effects are mediated through PI3-K and PKCε isoform signaling to directly affect both calcium release dynamics and myofilament function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-263
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work was supported by NIH grants 5R01HL077637, R01HL086902 and 5T32HL007647-17.


  • Contractility
  • Erythropoietin
  • Heart failure
  • Myofilament
  • Protein kinase C ε


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