A randomized phase II trial of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor therapy in severe sepsis with respiratory dysfunction

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002 Jul 15;166(2):138-43. doi: 10.1164/rccm.2009005.


Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) stimulates hemopoiesis and effector functions of granulocytes and macrophages and is involved in pulmonary surfactant homeostasis. We investigated whether GM-CSF therapy improved clinically diagnosed severe sepsis and respiratory dysfunction in critically ill patients. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II study added low-dose (3 mcg/kg) intravenous recombinant human GM-CSF daily for 5 days to conventional therapy in 10 patients, with a further eight patients receiving placebo. GM-CSF-treated patients showed improvement in Pa(O(2))/FI(O(2)) over 5 days (p = 0.02) and increased peripheral blood neutrophils (p = 0.08), whereas alveolar neutrophils decreased (p = 0.02). GM-CSF therapy was not associated with decreased 30-day survival or with increased acute respiratory distress syndrome or extrapulmonary organ dysfunction. GM-CSF therapy was associated with increased blood granulocyte superoxide production and restoration or preservation of blood and alveolar leukocyte phagocytic function. We conclude that low-dose GM-CSF was associated with improved gas exchange without pulmonary neutrophil infiltration, despite functional activation of both circulating neutrophils and pulmonary phagocytes. In addition, GM-CSF therapy was not associated with worsened acute respiratory distress syndrome or the multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, suggesting a homeostatic role for GM-CSF in sepsis-related pulmonary dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / administration & dosage*
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Phagocytosis
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Respiration Disorders / complications
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology
  • Respiration Disorders / therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / complications
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / complications*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / immunology


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor