1. Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, SAR of People's Republic of China
2. Molecular Medicine Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, U.S.A
Erythropoietin (EPO), the required cytokine for promoting the proliferation and differentiation of erythroid cells to stimulate erythropoiesis, has been reported to act as a pleiotropic cytokine beyond hematopoietic system. The various activities of EPO are determined by the widespread distribution of its cell surface EPO receptor (EpoR) in multiple tissues including endothelial, neural, myoblasts, adipocytes and other cell types. EPO activity has been linked to angiogenesis, neuroprotection, cardioprotection, stress protection, anti-inflammation and especially the energy metabolism regulation that is recently revealed. The investigations of EPO activity in animals and the expression analysis of EpoR provide more insights on the potential of EPO in regulating energy metabolism and homeostasis. The findings of crosstalk between EPO and some important energy sensors and the regulation of EPO in the cellular respiration and mitochondrial function further provide molecular mechanisms for EPO activity in metabolic activity regulation. In this review, we will summarize the roles of EPO in energy metabolism regulation and the activity of EPO in tissues that are tightly associated with energy metabolism. We will also discuss the effects of EPO in regulating oxidative metabolism and mitochondrial function, the interactions between EPO and important energy regulation factors, and the protective role of EPO from stresses that are related to metabolism, providing a brief overview of previously less appreciated EPO biological function in energy metabolism and homeostasis.
Keywords: Erythropoietin, pleiotropic cytokine, erythroid system