The impact of erythropoietin and iron status on brain myelination in the newborn rat

Karen P. Flores, Sharon E. Blohowiak, Joy J. Winzerling, Michael K. Georgieff, Pamela J. Kling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Erythropoietin (Epo) drives iron (Fe) utilization for erythropoiesis, but the potentially resultant tissue iron deficiency (ID) can also impede brain development. Conversely, Epo binds to Epo receptors (EpoR) on immature brain oligodendrocytes and neurons, promoting growth and differentiation. The objective of the study was to examine the interaction between Epo and Fe on myelination in brain development during daily Epo treatment. Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats from postnatal day (P) P4-P12 modeled premature newborns. Dam-fed Fe-sufficient (IS) or postnatal ID groups were given daily subcutaneous sham or erythropoietic Epo injections (425,6oral Fe (6 Tissues and blood were collected and studied at P12. Epo in the ID groups, in the absence of oral Fe, stimulated microcytic ID anemia along with raising inflammatory markers. Both the microcytic anemia and inflammation improved in the ID+Epo+ Fe group. Fe treatment positively impacted erythropoiesis and body Fe (mg/g) in all groups. Relative brain Fe (mg/g rat) was improved in the IS1Epo1Fe group. Brain Fe was not worsened in +Epo groups. Brain weight and brain Fe were related to plasma Epo levels. Amount of myelination was impacted by feeding type, but was not inhibited by Epo. Expression of a protein in myelin, mylein basic protein, was greater in all 1Fe groups than -Fe groups. With therapeutic Epo, available body Fe was prioritized for erythropoiesis instead of brain, but Epo did not worsen brain Fe and potentially Epo improved myelination and maturation in the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1586-1599
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • Inflammation
  • Myelin basic protein
  • Neonatal
  • Neuroprotection
  • Oligodendrocytes


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