Background: Plasma concentrations of atrial and brain natriuretic peptides (ANP, BNP), of their N-terminal pro-peptides, of endothelin-1 (ET-1), and big endothelin-1 (big ET-1) have diagnostic and prognostic significance in congestive heart failure (CHF). However, their respective values as a predictor of survival remain controversial and have never been directly compared in severe CHF.
Methods and results: We analyzed, in 47 patients with severe CHF (New York Heart Association [NYHA] class III to IV; age 66 +/- 8 years, ejection fraction 20 +/- 6%), the prognostic performance of a panel of neurohormones and assays (N-terminal pro-ANP 1-25, 68-98 by radioimmunoassay [RIA], and 1-98 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA], BNP by RIA and immunoradiometric assay [IRMA], N-terminal pro-BNP by Elisa, ET-1 by RIA, and big ET-1 by RIA and Elisa. Data were compared with 40 patients with mild to moderate CHF [NYHA I-II] and 30 healthy subjects. After a follow-up of 81 +/- 15 months, there were 34 deaths and 1 heart transplant. All neurohormones were significantly higher at baseline in patients with severe than in mild to moderate CHF or healthy subjects (all P < .001). Although all neurohormones but BNP IRMA were significant predictors of survival in univariate analysis, only big ET-1 RIA and ET-1 were independent predictors of survival (improvement chi(2): 7.5 and 4.6, P < .01 and P < .05). Using medians as cutpoints of big ET-1 RIA and ET-1, 2 severe CHF populations were defined with a different outcome (5-year survival: 55 versus 18%, P < .01).
Conclusions: Big ET-1 and ET-1 are strong independent predictors of survival in patients with severe CHF and better for this purpose than natriuretic peptides or their pro-peptides. These markers allow easily to identify a population with a very high risk mortality eligible for more aggressive therapies.