Background: Recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) reduces myocardial injury in experimental ischemia and has been proposed as a cardioprotective agent for potential use in acute coronary syndromes. Its safety profile in clinical acute ischemic settings is uncertain because rHuEpo has been reported to increase platelet reactivity and the risk of thromboembolism in some disease populations. Whether prothrombotic effects of rHuEpo mitigate the effects of antiplatelet agents used in acute coronary syndrome patients is unknown.
Methods: Recombinant human erythropoietin 100, 200, 400 U/kg, or placebo was given intravenously once daily for 3 consecutive days in a double-blind randomized trial in 96 healthy subjects. A single oral dose of aspirin 325 mg or clopidogrel 300 mg was given immediately after the last dose of study drug. Bleeding time and in vitro high shear stress platelet function assays (PFA)-100 were determined before; 5 hours; and 1, 5, and 7 days after aspirin or clopidogrel.
Results: Recombinant human erythropoietin at doses of 100 and 200 U/kg did not alter bleeding time or PFA-100 closure times at any time point when compared with placebo. Recombinant human erythropoietin at a dose of 400 U/kg significantly blunted the post-aspirin increase in bleeding time when compared with placebo (P = .03) but did not alter post-clopidogrel bleeding times nor PFA closure times. The 400-U/kg dose did not change hematocrit but did significantly increase the platelet count at 5 days after study drug administration when compared with placebo (P = .014).
Conclusion: Short-term rHuEpo at doses up to 200 U/kg did not mitigate the effects of administration of aspirin or clopidogrel on either in vivo or in vitro measures of platelet function in healthy subjects. The 400-U/kg dose attenuated the effects of aspirin on bleeding time and increased the platelet count. Studies of the effects of rHuEpo on platelet function in patients with coronary artery disease are warranted to further characterize dose/safety profile.