The complexity of providing adequate care after radiation exposure has drawn increasing attention. While most therapeutic development has focused on improving survival at lethal radiation doses, acute hematopoietic syndrome (AHS) occurs at substantially lower exposures. Thus, it is likely that a large proportion of such a radiation-exposed population will manifest AHS of variable degree and that the medical and socioeconomic costs of AHS will accrue. Here, we examined the potential of rBPI21 (opebacan), used without supportive care, to accelerate hematopoietic recovery after radiation where expected survival was substantial (42%-75%) at 30 days. rBPI21 administration was associated with accelerated recovery of hematopoietic precursors and normal marrow cellularity, with increases in megakaryocyte numbers particularly marked. This translated into attaining normal trilineage peripheral blood counts 2-3 weeks earlier than controls. Elevations of hematopoietic growth factors observed in plasma and the marrow microenvironment suggest the mechanism is likely multifactorial and not confined to known endotoxin-neutralizing and cytokine downmodulating activities of rBPI21. These observations deserve further exploration in radiation models and other settings where inadequate hematopoiesis is a prominent feature. These experiments also model the potential of therapeutics to limit the allocation of scarce resources after catastrophic exposures as an endpoint independent of lethality mitigation.
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