DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-114670
Original Paper
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Erythropoietin for Cognitive Deficits Associated with Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Major Depression: A Systematic Review

Xian-Bin Li1, #, Wei Zheng2, #, Yu-Ping Ning2, #, Dong-Bin Cai3, Xin-Hu Yang2, Gabor S. Ungvari4, 5, Chee H. Ng6, Chuan-Yue Wang1, Yu-Tao Xiang7
  • 1The China Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders & Beijing Key Laboratory of Mental Disorders, Beijing Anding Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
  • 2The Affiliated Brain Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University (Guangzhou Huiai Hospital), Guangzhou, China
  • 3Faculty of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the First Clinical Medical College, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, China
  • 4The University of Notre Dame Australia/Marian Centre, Perth, Australia
  • 5School of Psychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  • 6Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 7Unit of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Macao SAR, China
Further Information

Publication History

received 20 April 2017
revised 22 May 2017

accepted 12 June 2017

Publication Date:
17 July 2017 (eFirst)


Introduction The purpose of this study is to systematically review the efficacy and safety of adjunctive erythropoietin (EPO) in treating cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression based on randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Methods Two evaluators independently and systematically searched and selected studies, extracted data, and conducted quality assessment.

Results Four RCTs with 144 patients (71 in the EPO group and 73 in the placebo group) met the study entry criteria. Adjunctive EPO could improve schizophrenia-related cognitive performance. In patients with bipolar disorder, EPO could also enhance sustained attention, recognition of happy faces, and speed of complex information processing across learning, attention, and executive function when compared with placebo. In addition, EPO could enhance verbal recall, recognition, and memory in patients with major depression.

Discussion This preliminary study found that adjunctive EPO appears to be effective in treating cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression without major adverse effects observed. Further higher quality RCTs with larger samples are needed to confirm the findings.

Review registration: CRD42017058094

# These authors contributed equally to this work.

Supporting Information