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Keratinocyte growth factor in acute lung injury to reduce pulmonary dysfunction – a randomised placebo-controlled trial (KARE): study protocol

Laurence JM Cross12, Cecilia M O’Kane1, Cliona McDowell3, Jospeh J Elborn1, Michael A Matthay45 and Daniel F McAuley12*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Infection and Immunity, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Health Sciences Building, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland

2 Regional Intensive Care Unit, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 6BA, Northern Ireland

3 Clinical Research Support Centre, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 6BA, Northern Ireland

4 Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Avenue, M-917, San Francisco, CA, 94143-0624, USA

5 Departments of Medicine and Anesthesia, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA

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Trials 2013, 14:51  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-51

Published: 18 February 2013



Acute lung injury is a common, devastating clinical syndrome associated with substantial mortality and morbidity with currently no proven therapeutic interventional strategy to improve patient outcomes. The objectives of this study are to test the potential therapeutic effects of keratinocyte growth factor for patients with acute lung injury on oxygenation and biological indicators of acute inflammation, lung epithelial and endothelial function, protease:antiprotease balance, and lung extracellular matrix degradation and turnover.


This will be a prospective, randomised, double-blind, allocation-concealed, placebo-controlled, phase 2, multicentre trial. Randomisation will be stratified by presence of severe sepsis requiring vasopressors. Patients in an ICU fulfilling the American–European Consensus Conference Definition of acute lung injury will be randomised in a 1:1 ratio to receive an intravenous bolus of either keratinocyte growth factor (palifermin, 60 μg/kg) or placebo (0.9% sodium chloride solution) daily for a maximum of 6 days. The primary endpoint of this clinical study is to evaluate the efficacy of palifermin to improve the oxygenation index at day 7 or the last available oxygenation index prior to patient discontinuation from the study.

A formal statistical analysis plan has been constructed. Analyses will be carried out on an intention-to-treat basis. A single analysis is planned at the end of the trial. P = 0.05 will be considered statistically significant and all tests will be two-sided. For continuously distributed outcomes, differences between groups will be tested using independent-sample t tests, analysis of variance and analysis of covariance with transformation of variables to normality or nonparametric equivalents. The trial will be reported in line with the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (Consort 2010 guidelines).

Trial registration

http://ISRCTN95690673 webcite

Keratinocyte growth factor; Palifermin; Acute lung injury; Adult respiratory distress syndrome; Oxygenation index; Pulmonary oedema; Respiratory failure