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Clinical Trial Summary

- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability in people under age 45 in industrialized countries. Significant numbers of US veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan return with TBI. However, to date, there are no specific neuroprotective treatment options with proven clinical efficacy.

- Erythropoietin (EPO) is approved by the FDA to treat anemia and has comprehensive preclinical data supporting its neuroprotective and neuroregenerative efficacy following traumatic (TBI) and a wide range of other acquired brain insults. Injury to small and medium-sized cerebral blood vessels is a well recognized consequence of TBI. EPO increases production of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) and promotes angiogenesis and neovascularization after TBI. EPO also promotes neurogenesis and improves functional recovery in animals after experimental stroke and TBI. Neovascularization is coupled with neurogenesis, and augmentation of both processes by EPO may result in lessened cognitive deficits. Neovascularization by EPO may prevent post-traumatic deficits in cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR), which can be measured noninvasively using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

- This proposal is for a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot clinical trial designed to obtain data on the effects of EPO in humans with persistent post-concussive symptoms after TBI. The primary objective is to evaluate effect of 4 week administration of recombinant erythropoietin on numbers of circulating endothelial progenitor cells in patients with persistent symptoms during the subacute period after TBI. This information will guide the design of a future definitive study.

Clinical Trial Description

- The study population will include 30 males and females with persistent post-concussive symptoms continuing up to 7 days after TBI. Participants will be military service members or civilians presenting as outpatients for clinical management of TBI or post-concussive symptoms at the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM)-affiliated hospitals. These include the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), Suburban Hospital (SH), and Washington Hospital Center (WHC).

- Design: Participants will be referred to the NIH Clinical Center (CC) from participating hospitals or will be recruited by advertisements through CNRM Recruitment core to receive EPO or placebo. Telephone screening will be carried out to determine tentative eligibility. At the baseline visit, participants will be screened, consented and randomized 2:1 to receive either EPO or placebo with a dose of 40,000 IU EPO subcutaneously (s.c.) (n=20) once weekly for 4 weeks or placebo (n=10). Each participant will have 6 outpatient visits (visits 1-6) performed at the NIH CC. Placebo or active drug will be administered s.c. based on the randomization at visits 1-4; blood will be collected for EPC assays and safety laboratory measurements during each visit. Brain MRI and neuropsychological tests will be performed during visit 1 (before administering EPO or placebo), and visit 5 (one week after final drug administration) and visit 6 (6 months after study enrollment).

- Outcome Measures:

- Primary outcome:

(1). Effect of 4 weeks of EPO administration on numbers of circulating EPCs in patients with persistent symptoms during the subacute period after TBI (within subject comparison).

- Secondary outcomes:

(2). Comparison of the change of numbers of circulating EPC's between EPO and placebo groups.

(3). Effect of 4 weeks of EPO administration on MRI biomarkers of TBI recovery (such as CVR on hypercapnia and global and regional brain volumes by MRI).

(4). Effect of 4 weeks of EPO administration on plasma biomarkers of angiogenesis and inflammation, such as stem cell factor (SCF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), stromal-derived factor (SDF-1α); and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9).

(5). Effect of 4 weeks of placebo administration on numbers of circulating EPCs in patients with persistent symptoms during the subacute period after TBI.

- Tertiary outcome:

(6). Relationship between EPC levels at baseline and after 4 weeks and neuropsychological performance following TBI. ;

Study Design

Related Conditions & MeSH terms

NCT number NCT02148367
Study type Interventional
Source Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Status Withdrawn
Phase Phase 2
Start date September 2014
Completion date December 2016

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