Systematic literature review and meta-analysis on use of Thrombopoietic agents for chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia

PLoS One. 2022 Jun 9;17(6):e0257673. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0257673. eCollection 2022.


Background: Currently, there are no approved options to prevent or treat chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia (CIT). We performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis on use of thrombopoietic agents for CIT.

Patients and methods: We searched Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, PubMed, EMBASE,, and health technology assessments from January 1995 to March 2021 for studies evaluating thrombopoietic agents for CIT, including recombinant human thrombopoietin (rhTPO), megakaryocyte growth and development factor (MGDF), romiplostim, and eltrombopag. Random effects meta-analyses were conducted for efficacy and safety endpoints.

Results: We screened 1503 titles/abstracts, assessed 138 articles, and abstracted data from 39 publications (14 recombinant human thrombopoietin, 7 megakaryocyte growth and development factor, 9 romiplostim, 8 eltrombopag, and 1 romiplostim/eltrombopag). Random effects meta-analyses of data from multiple studies comparing thrombopoietic agents versus control (comparator, placebo, or no treatment) showed that thrombopoietic agents did not significantly improve chemotherapy dose delays and/or reductions (21.1% vs 40.4%, P = 0.364), grade 3/4 thrombocytopenia (39.3% vs 34.8%; P = 0.789), platelet transfusions (16.7% vs 31.7%, P = 0.111), grade ≥ 2 bleeding (6.7% vs 16.5%; P = 0.250), or thrombosis (7.6% vs 12.5%; P = 0.131). However, among individual studies comparing thrombopoietic agents with placebo or no treatment, thrombopoietic agents positively improved outcomes in some studies, including significantly increasing mean peak platelet counts (186 x 109/L with rhTPO vs 122 x 109/L with no treatment; P < 0.05) in one study and significantly increasing platelet count at nadir (56 x 109/L with rhTPO vs 28 x 109/L with not treatment; P < 0.05) in another study. Safety findings included thrombosis (n = 23 studies) and bleeding (n = 11), with no evidence of increased thrombosis risk with thrombopoietic agents.

Conclusion: Our analyses generate the hypothesis that thrombopoietic agents may benefit patients with CIT. Further studies with well-characterized bleeding and platelet thresholds are warranted to explore the possible benefits of thrombopoietic agents for CIT.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia* / drug therapy
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Hemorrhage / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Fc / therapeutic use
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / adverse effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / adverse effects
  • Thrombocytopenia* / chemically induced
  • Thrombocytopenia* / drug therapy
  • Thrombopoiesis
  • Thrombopoietin / adverse effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptors, Fc
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Thrombopoietin