It is now widely known that erythropoietin (Epo) does not only affect the haematopoietic system, but it can be considered a multifunctional trophic factor with an effect on the general homoeostasis of the entire organism. The recent discovery of a specific Epo/Epo-receptor system in the central nervous system (CNS) and cerebrospinal fluid, independently of the haematopoietic system, has further paved the way for new studies aimed at investigating the different sites of cerebral expression of Epo and its receptor, the regulation of their expression and, finally, the effects that this hormone has on the development and maturation of the brain. A further aim has been to investigate how it influences CNS homoeostasis and neurotransmission in adult brain. Attention has also been focused on the neurotrophic and neuroprotective function of Epo in different conditions of neuronal damage, such as hypoxia, cerebral ischaemia and subarachnoid haemorrhage, and therefore on the possibility that human recombinant Epo therapy could soon be used in clinical practice, also to limit neuronal damage induced by these diseases.

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