Phase II Trial of Intravenous Low-Dose Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor in Acute Ischemic Stroke

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2016 Jun;25(6):1451-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2016.01.022. Epub 2016 Mar 23.


Background: Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) has shown neuroprotective and neurogenerative activities in experimental studies, and our previous phase I clinical study suggested the safety and potential efficacy of low-dose G-CSF in acute ischemic stroke patients. The present phase II trial is aimed to evaluate the effect of G-CSF administration on neurological function and infarct volume, compared with a placebo group.

Methods: Forty-nine acute ischemic stroke patients (29 males, 20 females; 71 ± 10 years) within 24 hours after onset were recruited. Eligible patients were randomized 2:2:1 to receive G-CSF 150 µg/body/day, G-CSF 300 µg/body/day, and placebo, respectively. We evaluated clinical outcome in terms of the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, the modified Rankin Scale, and the Barthel Index at 90 days after onset, together with changes in infarct volume on magnetic resonance imaging.

Results: We found no serious adverse event, including change in leukocyte levels, which remained below 31,000/µL, at 150 and 300 µg G-CSF/body/day. Clinical outcome scores did not show any significant difference among the 3 groups. Chronological changes in infarct volume also showed no significant difference.

Conclusions: G-CSF was well-tolerated at 150 and 300 µg/body/day in patients with acute ischemic stroke. However, administration of G-CSF at both 150 and 300 µg/body/day neither contributed to functional recovery nor reduced infarct volume at 3 months after onset, compared with the control group. The apparent lack of effectiveness may have been due to the small sample size. A trial of combination therapy with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator and G-CSF is planned.

Keywords: Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor; acute stroke; ischemic stroke; neuroprotection; stroke trials.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / administration & dosage*
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Japan
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor