Background: Considerable morbidity and mortality are still associated with congestive heart failure (CHF) syndromes, despite improvement in therapy. Activation of neurohormonal, inflammatory, and oxidative mechanisms has been shown to contribute to the significant morbidity and mortality. Erythropoietin (EPO) is a cytokine known to regulate erythroid proliferation, attenuate apoptosis and oxidative stress, and promote angiogenesis. We prospectively evaluated the predictive value of baseline EPO, N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide, and C-reactive protein levels in patients with clinically controlled chronic CHF.
Methods: One hundred eighty-eight outpatients from a CHF clinic had baseline assessment of EPO, N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide, and C-reactive protein levels and a complete clinical data profile. These patients were followed up for 24 months for any hospitalization due to CHF or mortality.
Results: Circulating EPO levels were higher in CHF patients and increased in subjects with higher New York Heart Association scores. Levels of EPO (at a cutoff of 23 mU/mL) and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (cutoff at the median of 1556 pg/mL) were found to be strong predictors of mortality and CHF hospitalization, whereas C-reactive protein levels (cutoff of 10 mg/L) predicted CHF hospitalizations but not mortality. Left ventricular ejection fraction was found to be a predictor of mortality but not of CHF hospitalizations. Serum levels of EPO were significantly correlated with N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide and C-reactive protein levels but not with left ventricular ejection fraction.
Conclusion: If confirmed in large-scale clinical studies, determination of circulating EPO levels may aid in predicting morbidity and mortality in patients with clinically controlled congestive CHF.