Assessment of Acute Rejection by Global Longitudinal Strain and Cardiac Biomarkers in Heart-Transplanted Patients

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Aims: The aim of this study was to evaluate left ventricular global longitudinal strain (LVGLS), N-terminal pro brain natriuretic peptide (Nt-ProBNP), and Troponin T as non-invasive markers for acute cellular rejection (ACR) diagnosis and severity assessment after heart transplantation (HTx).

Methods: We retrospectively included all HTx patients transplanted from 2013 to 2019. At each visit, the patients were subjected to endomyocardial biopsy (EMB), measurement of Nt-ProBNP and Troponin T, and protocoled echocardiography with assessment of LVGLS. Sudden drop in graft function (SDGF) was defined as a drop in LVGLS ≥-2% in combination with either an increase in Troponin T ≥20% or Nt-ProBNP ≥30% compared with levels at the latest visit.

Results: We included 1,436 EMBs from 83 HTx patients. The biopsies were grouped as 0R (n = 857), 1R (n = 538), and ≥2R (n = 41). LVGLS was lower and Troponin T and Nt-ProBNP higher in the 2R group than in the 0R and 1R groups (LVGLS: -12.9 ± 3.8% versus -16.9 ± 3.1% and -16.1 ± 3.3%; Troponin T: 79 [33;230] ng/l versus 27 [13;77] ng/l and 27 [14;68] ng/l; Nt-ProBNP: 4,174 [1,095;9,510] ng/l versus 734 [309;2,210] ng/l and 725 [305;2,082], all p < 0.01). A SDGF was seen at 45 visits of which 19 had ≥2R ACR. EMBs showed ACR in 20 cases without SDGF. Finally, neither was SDGF seen nor did the EMB show rejection in 1,136 cases. Thus, the sensitivity of SDGF for ≥2R ACR detection was 49% (32-65) and specificity 98% (97-99). The positive predictive value (PPV) was 42% (31-55) and the negative predictive value (NPV) 98% (98-99). The diagnostic value improved in a sub-analysis excluding EMBs within 3 months after HTx, clinically interpreted false positive ≥2R ACR cases, and cases with ≥2R ACR who recently (<2 weeks) were treated with intravenous methylprednisolone due to ≥2R ACR (sensitivity 75% (48-93), specificity 97% (96-98), NPV 99% (99-100), and PPV 39% (27-52).

Conclusions: Patients with ≥2R ACR have lower LVGLS and higher Troponin T and Nt-ProBNP than patients without 2R rejection. A non-invasive model combining changes in LVGLS and Troponin T or Nt-ProBNP showed excellent negative predictive value and moderate sensitivity and may be used as a gatekeeper to invasive biopsies after HTx.

Original languageEnglish
Article number841849
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

    Research areas

  • Biomarkers, Graft Rejection/diagnosis, Heart Transplantation/adverse effects, Humans, Retrospective Studies, Troponin T

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