CA 125 and its relation to cardiac function

Am Heart J. 1999 Jun;137(6):1044-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-8703(99)70360-1.


Background: CA 125, known as a marker for ovarian cancer with hypothetical but hitherto uncharacterized biologic functions, was reported to be elevated in some not-well-defined benign conditions. There are no reports on fluctuations of CA 125 related to cardiac function, especially the failing heart and neurohumoral factors such as norepinephrine or atrial natriuretic peptid/e.

Methods and results: CA 125 blood levels were determined in patients with heart failure before and after heart transplantation (HTx). In 71 patients, parallel determinations of norepinephrine, atrial natriuretic peptide, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, and right atrial filling pressure were done. CA 125 levels also were prospectively studied in patients with heart failure with stabilization (n = 25) or worsening of the clinical status (n = 9) and after HTx (n = 25). Parallel determinations of the tumor markers CEA, CA 199, CA 153, TPS, and TPA were also done. The results were grouped according to the clinical status (New York Heart Association class) of the patients. CA 125 was significantly correlated with neurohormones and filling pressures. Follow-up investigations revealed a decrease of CA 125 levels after HTx (401 +/- 259 U/L vs 33 +/- 22 U/L, P <.001, n = 25) or stabilization (429 +/- 188 U/L vs 78 +/- 35 U/L, P <.001, n = 25) and an increase during worsening of heart failure (42 +/- 25 U/L vs 89 +/- 32 U/L, P <.01, n = 9). In 4 patients after HTx, unexpected death was preceded by rising CA 125 levels. CEA, CA 199, CA 153, TPS, or TPA did not correlate with heart failure status or clinical events.

Conclusions: CA 125 is a marker of the clinical and hemodynamic status and the course of patients with heart failure before and after heart transplantation. The determination of CA 125 serum levels may be an additional tool in the management of these patients. In patients with cancer, these "nonspecific" changes must be considered when CA 125 levels are determined. Whether CA 125 has a specific biologic role in heart failure deserves further studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Heart Failure / blood
  • Heart Failure / therapy
  • Heart Transplantation / physiology
  • Heart Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • CA-125 Antigen
  • Atrial Natriuretic Factor
  • Norepinephrine