Erythropoietin promotes M2 macrophage phagocytosis of Schwann cells in peripheral nerve injury

Prem Kumar Govindappa, John C. Elfar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Following acute sciatic nerve crush injury (SNCI), inflammation and the improper phagocytic clearance of dying Schwann cells (SCs) has effects on remodeling that lead to morbidity and incomplete functional recovery. Therapeutic strategies like the use of erythropoietin (EPO) for peripheral nerve trauma may serve to bring immune cell phagocytotic clearance under control to support debris clearance. We evaluated EPO’s effect on SNCI and found EPO treatment increased myelination and sciatic functional index (SFI) and bolstered anti-apoptosis and phagocytosis of myelin debris via CD206+ macrophages when compared to saline treatment. EPO enhanced M2 phenotype activity, both in bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMMØs) and peritoneal-derived macrophages (PMØs) in vitro, as well as in PMØs in vivo. EPO increased efferocytosis of apoptotic sciatic nerve derived Schwann cells (SNSCs) in both settings as demonstrated using immunofluorescence (IF) and flow cytometry. EPO treatment significantly attenuated pro-inflammatory genes (IL1β, iNOS, and CD68) and augmented anti-inflammatory genes (IL10 and CD163) and the cell-surface marker CD206. EPO also increased anti-apoptotic (Annexin V/7AAD) effects after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induction in macrophages. Our data demonstrate EPO promotes the M2 phenotype macrophages to ameliorate apoptosis and efferocytosis of dying SCs and myelin debris and improves SN functional recovery following SNCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number245
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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