Author(s): Ehrenreich H, Fischer B, Norra C, Schellenberger F, Stender N,
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Abstract The neurodegenerative aspects of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) have received increasing attention in recent years, since anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive treatment strategies have largely failed. However, successful neuroprotection and/or neuroregeneration in MS have not been demonstrated yet. Encouraged by the multifaceted neuroprotective effects of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) in experimental models, we performed an investigator-driven, exploratory open label study (phase I/IIa) in patients with chronic progressive MS. Main study objectives were (i) evaluating safety of long-term high-dose intravenous rhEPO treatment in MS, and (ii) collecting first evidence of potential efficacy on clinical outcome parameters. Eight MS patients, five randomly assigned to high-dose (48,000 IU), three to low-dose (8000 IU) rhEPO treatment, and, as disease controls, two drug-naïve Parkinson patients (receiving 48,000 IU) were followed over up to 48 weeks: A 6-week lead-in phase, a 12-week treatment phase with weekly EPO, another 12-week treatment phase with bi-weekly EPO, and a 24-week post-treatment phase. Clinical and electrophysiological improvement of motor function, reflected by a reduction in expanded disability status scale (EDSS), and of cognitive performance was found upon high-dose EPO treatment in MS patients, persisting for three to six months after cessation of EPO application. In contrast, low-dose EPO MS patients and drug-naïve Parkinson patients did not improve in any of the parameters tested. There were no adverse events, no safety concerns and a surprisingly low need of blood-lettings. This first pilot study demonstrates the necessity and feasibility of controlled trials using high-dose rhEPO in chronic progressive MS.
This article was published in Brain
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism