Background: Erythropoietin (EPO) has been found to have anti-apoptotic and tissue protective effects on the myocardium. The aim of the present pilot study was to observe the safety and efficacy of EPO administration for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Methods and results: Patients admitted with AMI had all undergone successful percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Patients were randomly assigned to 2 groups (control and EPO groups), and given 12,000 IU EPO iv or saline after PCI. The primary endpoints were the difference between the acute phase and chronic phase (6 months after the attack) regarding left ventricular function as measured on electrocardiogram-gated single-photon emission computed tomography. Thirty-six patients (control 16, EPO 20) were eligible for analysis. Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) significantly increased in the EPO group (from 51.0+/-19.6% to 58.5+/-15.0%, P=0.0238), but not in the control group. Further analysis was separately undertaken in patients with occlusion in the left anterior descending artery (LAD) and others (non-LAD). LVEF was <50% in most patients in the LAD subgroup, and LVEF significantly increased in the EPO group (37.5+/-13.0 to 52.7+/-15.8, P=0.0049), but not in the control group. EPO administration did not trigger any adverse clinical events.
Conclusions: EPO administration is a promising treatment for AMI.