The most common cause of stroke is cerebral ischemia, where blood flow to the brain is interrupted due to a thrombus in a major cerebral artery. Currently, the only therapeutic approach available is thrombolysis. A more recent approach that has started to gain attention is neuroprotection, the ability to prevent neuronal death and enhance endogenous protective mechanisms. Several studies have shown the neuroprotective action of Erythropoietin (EPO). A potential problem in the use of EPO for neurodegenerative disorders is the undesirable erythropoietic side effects. In this context, investigations have been focused to develop derivatives of EPO lacking erythropoietic activity but retaining neuroprotective potential. Low sialic acid-containing EPO (Neuro EPO) is very similar to the one that occurs in the mammalian brain and is rapidly degraded by the liver. Similar neuroprotective effects had been observed with neuro EPO, original recombinant human EPO and EPO variants in ischemia models. Intranasal route could be safe and hematological side effects could be avoided. Neuro EPO that constitutes a new agent has retained the neuroprotective effects without stimulating the EPOR in the bone marrow and can therefore be used without increasing the hematocrit. This review gives a brief introduction to the no hematopoietic effects of EPO, the evidence of neuroprotective effect, the alternatives for obtaining an EPO derivate without hematological side effects and discusses the advantages of nasal administration of Neuro EPO for neuroprotective stroke treatment.
Keywords: Erythropoietin, intranasal administration, neuro EPO, neuroprotective, glycosylated chains, central nervous system (CNS), neuroprotection, cerebral ischemia