Last updated on February 2018

Effect of Erythropoietin in Premature Infants on White Matter Lesions and Neurodevelopmental Outcome


Brief description of study

Preterm and very preterm infants are at risk of developing encephalopathy of prematurity and long-term neurodevelopmental delay. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows the characterization of specific features of encephalopathy of prematurity, including structural changes of brain white matter and gray matter. This study wants to investigate important evidence that early repeated high-dose rhEPO(5250 IU/kg) treatment improves long-term neurological outcomes in very preterm infants and without obvious adverse effects.

Detailed Study Description

HYPOTHESIS Early administration of human erythropoietin (EPO) in preterm infants reduces perinatal injury to the brain and improves neurodevelopmental outcome at 24 months corrected age.

PRIMARY OBJECTIVE To determine whether cerebral outcome is improved if infants born between 28 0/7 and 34 6/7 gestational weeks at birth receive erythropoietin in high dose in the first two weeks after birth.

Biomarkers of encephalopathy of prematurity assessed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at term equivalent age.

RATIONALE Erythropoietin (EPO) was first recognized for its hematopoietic properties; recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) has been used to treat a number of anemic states, including early and late anemia of prematurity, and it has been found to be safe and to reduce the need for blood transfusions. EPO produced in the central nervous system7 is upregulated after insult and plays a role in neuroprotection. Experimental studies have reported that rhEPO possesses neuroprotective properties in different neonatal brain injury animal models, and clinical studies have shown that rhEPO treatment reduces brain injury and the incidence of neurological disabilities in infants.8,14-17 In addition, improved neurodevelopmental outcomes have been observed in preterm infants with anemia after rhEPO treatment. The neuroprotective effect of rhEPO was suggested to be through acting against apoptosis, inflammation, and neurotoxicity and by acting as an antioxidant in protecting white matter from injury and in promoting neural regeneration, injury repair, and normal development.

STUDY DESIGN Randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled multicenter clinical trial. Research plan 400 infants will be randomized during the first three hours of life to receive EPO (5250 U/kg body weight) or placebo intravenously, the first dose(750U/kg) will be injected within 24h after birth, subsequent injection will be given each other day for 2 weeks. Standardized evaluation including cerebral sonography at day 1, 7 and 28 will determine the presence or absence of complications. Cerebral volume and white matter volume will be assessed at 40 postmenstrual weeks with MRI (only if available).

Experienced examiners will assess developmental function at 6 and 12 months corrected age using the reliable and validly revised Bayley Scales III of Infant Development and determine the presence or absence of impairment of motor function (cerebral palsy) and neurosensory function (blindness or deafness).

Primary outcome was cognitive development assessed with the Mental Development Index (MDI; norm, 100 [SD, 15]; higher values indicate better function) of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, second edition (BSID-II) at 1 years corrected age.

Second outcome assess the effect of early administration of rh Epo on white matter development in preterm infants using Tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS ). White matter disease of the preterm infant, was semiquantitatively assessed from MRI at term-equivalent age based on an established scoring method.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03110341

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Recruitment Status: Open


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