Functional hypoxia drives neuroplasticity and neurogenesis via brain erythropoietin / Debia Wakhloo, Franziska Scharkowski, Yasmina Curto, Umer Javed Butt, Vikas Bansal, Agnes A. Steixner-Kumar, Liane Wüstefeld, Ashish Rajput, Sahab Arinrad, Matthias R. Zillmann, Anna Seelbach, Imam Hassouna, Katharina Schneider, Abdul Qadir Ibrahim, Hauke B. Werner, Henrik Martens, Kamilla Miskowiak, Sonja M. Wojcik, Stefan Bonn, Juan Nacher, Klaus-Armin Nave, Hannelore Ehrenreich. - (Nature Communications 11 (2020) 1313 (9 March); p. 1-12)
- PMID: 32152318
- PMCID: PMC7062779
- DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15041-1
Erythropoietin (EPO), named after its role in hematopoiesis, is also expressed in mammalian brain. In clinical settings, recombinant EPO treatment has revealed a remarkable improvement of cognition, but underlying mechanisms have remained obscure. Here, we show with a novel line of reporter mice that cognitive challenge induces local/endogenous hypoxia in hippocampal pyramidal neurons, hence enhancing expression of EPO and EPO receptor (EPOR). High-dose EPO administration, amplifying auto/paracrine EPO/EPOR signaling, prompts the emergence of new CA1 neurons and enhanced dendritic spine densities. Single-cell sequencing reveals rapid increase in newly differentiating neurons. Importantly, improved performance on complex running wheels after EPO is imitated by exposure to mild exogenous/inspiratory hypoxia. All these effects depend on neuronal expression of the Epor gene. This suggests a model of neuroplasticity in form of a fundamental regulatory circle, in which neuronal networks-challenged by cognitive tasks-drift into transient hypoxia, thereby triggering neuronal EPO/EPOR expression.