Background: In patients with refractory unstable angina, the platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa-receptor antibody abciximab reduces the incidence of cardiac events before and during coronary angioplasty. We investigated whether serum troponin T levels identify patients most likely to benefit from therapy with this drug.
Methods: Among 1265 patients with unstable angina who were enrolled in the c7E3 Fab Antiplatelet Therapy in Unstable Refractory Angina (CAPTURE) trial, serum samples drawn at the time of randomization to abciximab or placebo were available from 890 patients; we used these samples for the determination of troponin T and creatine kinase MB levels. Patients with postinfarction angina were not included.
Results: Serum troponin T levels at the time of study entry were elevated (above 0.1 ng per milliliter) in 275 patients (30.9 percent). Among patients receiving placebo, the risk of death or nonfatal myocardial infarction was related to troponin T levels. The six-month cumulative event rate was 23.9 percent among patients with elevated troponin T levels, as compared with 7.5 percent among patients without elevated troponin T levels (P<0.001). Among patients treated with abciximab, the respective six-month event rates were 9.5 percent for patients with elevated troponin T levels and 9.4 percent for those without elevated levels. As compared with placebo, the relative risk of death or nonfatal myocardial infarction associated with treatment with abciximab in patients with elevated troponin T levels was 0.32 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.14 to 0.62; P=0.002). The lower event rates in patients receiving abciximab were attributable to a reduction in the rate of myocardial infarction (odds ratio, 0.23; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.12 to 0.49; P<0.001). In patients without elevated troponin T levels, there was no benefit of treatment with respect to the relative risk of death or myocardial infarction at six months (odds ratio, 1.26; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.74 to 2.31; P=0.47).
Conclusions: The serum troponin T level, which is considered to be a surrogate marker for thrombus formation, identifies a high-risk subgroup of patients with refractory unstable angina suitable for coronary angioplasty who will particularly benefit from antiplatelet treatment with abciximab.