The aim of this study was to establish erythropoietin as a protective factor against brain ischemia during open heart surgery.
A total of 36 consecutive patients scheduled for revascularization heart surgery were included in the study. Of the patients 18 received 3 intravenous doses of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo, 24,000 IU) and 18 patients received a placebo. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect new brain ischemic lesions was performed. Additionally, S100A, S100B, neuron-specific enolase A and B (NSE-A and B) and the concentration of antibodies against N‑methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) to identify new neurological complications were determined.
Patients who received rHuEpo showed no postoperative ischemic changes in the brain on MRI images. In the control group 5 (27.8 %) new ischemic lesions were found. The NMDAR antibody concentration, S100A, S100B and NSE showed no significant differences between the groups for new cerebral ischemia. High levels of lactate before and after external aortic compression (p = 0.022 and p = 0.048, respectively) and duration of operation could predict new ischemic lesions (p = 0.009).
The addition of rHuEpo reduced the formation of lesions detectable by MRI in the brain and could be used clinically as neuroprotection in cardiac surgery.