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Erythropoietin Improves Blood Flow in Ischemic Legs

Last Updated: June 18, 2009.

When delivered by gelatin microspheres, the angiogenic factor erythropoietin can safely improve blood flow in a mouse model of peripheral arterial disease, according to a study in the June 23 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

THURSDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- When delivered by gelatin microspheres, the angiogenic factor erythropoietin can safely improve blood flow in a mouse model of peripheral arterial disease, according to a study in the June 23 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Longhu Li, M.D., from Gifu University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, and colleagues ligated the right femoral arteries of mice to create ischemia, then injected the right hind limb muscles with erythropoietin-immersed gelatin hydrogel microspheres or with saline, microspheres without erythropoietin, or erythropoietin.

After eight weeks, the researchers found that blood flow to the ischemic leg improved significantly in mice receiving the erythropoietin microspheres. Capillary and arteriolar densities significantly increased in these mice, with no changes in hemoglobin level or endothelial progenitor cells. The treatment was associated with increases in the level of the erythropoietin receptor and downstream signaling mediators.

"At present, both erythropoietin and gelatin hydrogels are already in use in the clinical setting, with safety clearly established, so the unfavorable systemic effect of erythropoietin is avoidable with this method," Li and colleagues conclude. "We believe that this therapy is safer, less invasive, and more promising compared with previous therapeutic angiogenesis and is readily applicable to patients suffering from peripheral artery disease."

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