Erythropoietin (EPO) and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) are known to have neuroprotective actions. Based on previous reports showing the synergistic effects of EPO+G-CSF combination therapy in experimental models, we investigated the safety of EPO+G-CSF combination therapy in patients with chronic stroke. In a pilot study, 3 patients were treated with EPO and G-CSF for 5 consecutive days, with follow-up on day 30. In an exploratory double-blind study, 6 patients were allocated to treatment with either EPO+G-CSF or placebo. Treatment was applied once a day for 5 days per month over 3 months. Participants were followed up for 6 months. To substantiate safety, vital signs, adverse events, and hematological values were measured on days 0, 5, and 30 in each cycle and on day 180. Functional outcomes were determined on day 0 and 180. In the laboratory measurements, EPO+G-CSF combination therapy significantly elevated erythropoietin, CD34+
hematopoietic stem cells, white blood cells, and neutrophils on day 5 of each cycle. There were no observations of serious adverse events. In the functional outcomes, the grip power of the dominant hand was increased in the EPO+G-CSF treatment group. In conclusion, this exploratory study suggests a novel strategy of EPO+G-CSF combination therapy for stroke patients.
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