Diffusion capacity in heart transplant recipients

Chest. 1992 Aug;102(2):456-60. doi: 10.1378/chest.102.2.456.


Preoperative diffusion capacity per liter alveolar volume (Kco) in cardiac transplant recipients with an intrinsic normal lung is within the normal range. In the first postoperative year, Kco showed a significant mean decrease of 12 percent (p less than 0.004). Lung function (TLC, VC, FEV1) tended to normalize after heart transplantation. Ventilation distribution remained stable before and after heart transplantation. Preoperatively, weak correlations were found between Kco and diastolic pulmonary arterial pressure (dPAP) and mean pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP). Postoperatively, correlation between Kco and PCWP was weak, and between Kco and dPAP it was not significant at all. These pressures determine the capillary blood volume before and after transplantation. Probably these weak correlations indicate that intrapulmonary factors, not cardiac factors, are of primary importance in the regulation of blood distribution. The percentage of decrease in Kco in the first postoperative year correlated with the change in dPAP and PCWP, but also with the cyclosporine level in the first posttransplant year. No correlation was found between cyclosporine level and pulmonary vascular resistance. It is suggested that higher levels of cyclosporine influence the alveolar capillary membrane, so that Kco decreases. The percentage of decrease in Kco was significantly more outspoken in patients who had rales on auscultation preoperatively. Using multiple regression analysis, we found that the factors most strongly related to the percentage of change in Kco in the first posttransplant year were the preoperative Kco, the cyclosporine level in the first postoperative year, and the change in dPAP in that year.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cyclosporine / blood
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Transplantation / physiology*
  • Heart Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis


  • Cyclosporine