Background: Heart-type cytoplasmic fatty acid-binding protein (H-FABP) has been reported as a sensitive and specific marker for the early diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. Our hypothesis was that serum or pericardial fluid levels of H-FABP can reflect not only myocardial infarction but also myocardial ischemia.
Methods: A total of 34 patients with unstable angina, who had anginal symptoms and/or ST-changes in ECG monitoring within 24 h before operation, were classified into group A (n=17), and those without these symptoms and changes into group B (n=17). Blood and pericardial fluid samples were obtained immediately after median sternotomy, and serum and pericardial fluid levels of creatine kinase-MB, cardiac troponin-T, and H-FABP were measured.
Results: Serum H-FABP levels were slightly elevated compared with their normal values in both groups. While they showed no difference between groups A and B (group A vs. B: 8.5+/-1.0 vs. 7.1+/-0.7 ng/ml, P=0.25), pericardial fluid levels of H-FABP were significantly higher in group A than in group B (16.3+/-2.0 vs. 9.6+/-1.0 ng/ml, P=0.0046). H-FABP showed a weak correlation between its serum levels and pericardial fluid levels (r=0.40).
Conclusions: Pericardial fluid levels of H-FABP reflect myocardial ischemia occurring within 24 h of their measurements. H-FABP may be secreted into the interstitial space by increased permeability of the myocardial cell membrane associated with severe myocardial ischemia. Thus, pericardial fluid reflects pathophysiological conditions of cardiomyocytes more sensitively than circulating blood.