Aims: Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) is the major cause of increased morbidity and mortality after heart transplantation. Peripheral endothelial dysfunction (PED) is associated with early atherosclerosis and future risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in non-heart transplant population. We aimed to investigate the association of PED with future MACE, and plaque progression assessed by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) after heart transplantation. Methods and results: We included 66 transplant patients who underwent serial IVUS surveillance for CAV and baseline assessment of peripheral endothelial function using reactive hyperaemia peripheral arterial tonometry. PED was defined as reactive hyperaemia index < 2. The primary endpoint of the study was to investigate the association of PED with CAV progression assessed by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). CAV progression was assessed as the change (Δ) in plaque volume divided by segment length, and Δ plaque index (plaque volume/vessel volume), adjusted for the time between IVUS measurements (median 3.0 [2.2, 3.1] years). The secondary endpoint was to investigate the association between PED and future MACE, which was defined as any incident of revascularization, heart failure hospitalization, stroke, myocardial infarction, re-transplantation, and death. Patients with PED (n = 27) had more yearly plaque progression (0.50 ± 0.66 vs. 0.15 ± 0.50 mm3/mm/year, P = 0.02) and a higher Δ plaque index (2.41 ± 2.53% vs. 0.69 ± 2.22%, P = 0.01). Patients with PED were more likely to experience MACE during a median follow-up of 8.2 years (interquartile range [7.6, 8.4]), after adjustment for potential cofounders such as age, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, total rejection score, baseline International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation CAV grade, and indication of transplantation. (hazard ratio 2.15, 95% confidence interval [1.09, 4.23], P = 0.03). Conclusions: Peripheral endothelial dysfunction is associated with increased plaque progression and adverse long-term cardiovascular outcomes in transplant patients. PED assessment might be a useful clinical tool for risk stratification after heart transplantation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine