Inactivation of erythropoietin leads to defects in cardiac morphogenesis

Hong Wu, Sang Hoon Lee, Jing Gao, Xin Liu, M. Luisa Iruela-Arispe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

309 Scopus citations


Erythropoietin is an essential growth factor that promotes survival, proliferation, and differentiation of mammalian erythroid progenitor cells. Erythropoietin(-/-) and erythropoietin receptor(-/-) mouse embryos die around embryonic day 13.5 due, in part, to failure of erythropoiesis in the fetal liver. In this study, we demonstrated a novel role of erythropoietin and erythropoietin receptor in cardiac development in vivo. We found that erythropoietin receptor is expressed in the developing murine heart in a temporal and cell type-specific manner: it is initially detected by embryonic day 10.5 and persists until day 14.5. Both erythropoietin(-/-) and erythropoietin receptor(-/-) embryos suffered from ventricular hypoplasia at day 12-13 of gestation. This defect appears to be independent from the general state of hypoxia and is likely due to a reduction in the number of proliferating cardiac myocytes in the ventricular myocardium. Cell proliferation assays revealed that erythropoietin acts as a mitogen in cells isolated from erythropoietin(-/-) mice, while it has no effect in hearts from erythropoietin receptor(-/-) animals. Erythropoietin(-/-) and erythropoietin receptor(-/-) embryos also suffered from epicardium detachment and abnormalities in the vascular network. Finally, through a series of chimeric analysis, we provided evidence that erythropoietin acts in a manner which is non-cell-autonomous. Our results elucidate a novel role of erythropoietin in cardiac morphogenesis and suggest a combination of anemia and cardiac failure as the cause of embryonic lethality in the erythropoietin(-/-) and erythropoietin receptor(-/-) animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3597-3605
Number of pages9
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Endocardium
  • Endothelial cells
  • Heart
  • Mouse
  • Myocardium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Inactivation of erythropoietin leads to defects in cardiac morphogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this