Efficacy and safety of erythropoietin in patients with traumatic brain injury: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Published:August 29, 2018DOI:



      The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of erythropoietin (EPO) on mortality and neurological outcomes in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

      Materials and methods

      Electronic databases of studies published up to January 5, 2017 were searched to retrieve relevant investigations comparing the outcomes of EPO-treated patients and untreated patients following TBI. We calculated the relative risk (RR) of mortality, neurologic outcomes, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) with corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) using meta-analysis.


      Six randomized controlled clinical trials met the eligibility criteria. In total, 1041 patients were included among the studies. EPO was found to significantly reduce the occurrence of mortality (RR 0.68 [95% CI 0.50–0.95]; P = 0.02), but did not significantly reduce poor functional outcome (RR 1.22 [95% CI 0.82–1.81]; P = 0.33). There were no significant differences in the occurrence of complications, such as DVT, between the treatment groups (RR −0.02 [95% CI −0.06–0.02]; P = 0.81).


      Results of the present meta-analysis suggest that the use of EPO may prevent death following TBI without causing adverse events, such as deep vein thrombosis. However, the role of EPO in improving neurological outcome(s) remains unclear. Further well-designed, randomized controlled trials using modified protocols and involving specific patient populations are required to clarify this issue, and to verify the findings.


      EPO (erythropoietin), TBI (traumatic brain injury), DVT (deep vein thrombosis), CI (confidence interval), RR (relative risk), RCT (randomized controlled trial), GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale), GOS (Glasgow Outcome Scale)


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