Non-erythroid Effects of Erythropoietin on Cognitive Function and Exercise Capacity in Humans

University of Zurich (UZH) logo

University of Zurich (UZH)

Status and phase

Phase 2
Phase 1




Drug: Erythropoietin (Epoetin beta)
Drug: Placebo

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The blood hormone Erythropoietin (Epo) is not only produced by the kidneys but also by the brain, especially under hypoxic conditions. It has been shown in animal studies and human studies that Epo has neuroprotective properties. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence for central modulatory effects of Epo in the brain but high dose of Epo is needed to overcome the blood brain barrier. In a double blind placebo controlled crossover study we will investigate the effects of a single high dose of Epo on cognitive function and exercise capacity in healthy subjects. The subjects will receive a single high dose of Epo (60.000 IU) and will perform a computerized cognitive test battery, a breathing test, a maximal exercise capacity test (VO2max), and a time trial (TT) 24 hours after the treatment. The primary outcome of the study will be the cognitive function. Trial with medicinal product


32 estimated patients




18 to 35 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Healthy Subjects;
  • Age between 18 to 35 years;
  • Normal body weight (body mass index of >= 18.5 kg/m2 <= 24.9 kg/m2);
  • Nonsmokers (>= 1 year);
  • VO2max of <= 55 ml/kg/min for females and <= 60 ml/kg/min for males;

Exclusion criteria

  • Persons with abnormal Serum Ferritin levels according to gender dependent reference values of GCP-certificated laboratory;
  • Persons with pre-existing genetic hemostatic disorders (Factor V Leiden mutation, Prothrombin mutation);
  • Persons which are at risk of deep venous thrombosis (e.g. history of venous thromboembolic events);
  • Persons with a hematocrit value of > 55%;
  • Persons being exposed to prolonged (>= 5 days) high altitude (>= 2500m above Normal Null) <= 6 months prior the beginning of the study;
  • Persons not willing to maintain their living conditions during the study period (e.g. preparing for a certain competition);
  • Contraindications to the class of drugs under study, e.g. known hypersensitivity or allergy to class of drugs or the investigational product;
  • Pregnant or breast feeding women;
  • Intention to become pregnant during the course of the study;
  • Lack of safe contraception;
  • Treatment with other investigational products;
  • Known or suspected non-compliance, drug or alcohol abuse;
  • Inability to follow the procedures of the study, e.g. due to language problems, psychological disorders;
  • Participation in another study with investigational drug within the 30 days preceding and during the present study;
  • Enrolment of the investigator, his/her family members, employees and other dependent persons;

Trial design

Primary purpose

Basic Science



Interventional model

Crossover Assignment


Quadruple Blind

32 participants in 2 patient groups, including a placebo group

Erythropoietin (Epoetin beta)
Experimental group
Short infusion of 60.000 IU Epoetin beta in 0.9% sodium chloride solution (250 ml)
Drug: Erythropoietin (Epoetin beta)
0.9% sodium chloride solution
Placebo Comparator group
Short infusion of 0.9% sodium chloride solution (250 ml)
Drug: Placebo

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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