Early propranolol administration to severely injured patients can improve bone marrow dysfunction

Letitia E. Bible, Latha V. Pasupuleti, Walter D. Alzate, Amy V. Gore, Kim J. Song, Ziad C. Sifri, David H. Livingston, Alicia M. Mohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background: Bone marrow (BM) dysfunction is common in severely injured trauma patients, resulting from elevated catecholamines and plasma granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) as well as prolonged mobilization of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). We have previously shown that propranolol (β-blocker [BB]) reduces HPC mobilization in a rodent model of injury and hemorrhagic shock. We hypothesize that BB would prevent BM dysfunction in humans following severe injury. Methods: Forty-five severely injured trauma patients were studied in a prospective, randomized pilot trial. Twenty-five patients received BB, and 20 served as untreated controls. The dose of propranolol was adjusted to decrease the heart rate by 10% to 20% from baseline. Blood was analyzed for the presence of HPC (blast-forming unit erythroid cells [BFU-E] and colony-forming unit erythroid cells) and G-CSF. Demographic data, Injury Severity Score (ISS), hemoglobin, reticulocyte number, and outcome data were obtained. Results: The mean age of the study population was 33 years; 87% were male, with a mean ISS of 29. There is a significant increase in BFU-E in peripheral blood immediately following traumatic injury, and this mobilization persists for 30 days. The use of BB significantly decreases BFU-E and colony-forming unit erythroid cells at all time points. G-CSF is significantly elevated in both groups on admission; the use of BB decreases G-CSF levels by 51% as compared with 37% for controls. The average hemoglobin is nearly 1 g higher on the day of discharge with propranolol treatment (BB, 9.9 ± 0.4 g/dL vs. no BB, 9.1 ± 0.6 g/dL). Conclusion: Following severe trauma, early treatment with propranolol following resuscitation is safe. The use of propranolol blunts early tachycardia, reduces HPC mobilization, and results in a faster return to baseline of the G-CSF peak seen after injury. There is also a trend toward faster recovery and resolution of anemia. Propranolol may be the first therapeutic agent to show improved BM function after severe injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • anemia
  • Bone marrow
  • G-CSF
  • hemoglobin
  • βblockade


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