Aims: Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is associated with high mortality and morbidity. Endothelial damage involving cathepsin-D to form a 16 kDa prolactin (PRL) peptide is pathogenetically relevant. Inhibiting PRL peptide with bromocriptine has yielded promising results. We investigated whether microparticles (MPs) can be quantified in serum as markers for diagnosis and treatment effects in PPCM.
Methods and results: Patients with PPCM were compared with age-matched healthy post-partum women (PPCTR), healthy pregnant women (PCTR), healthy non-pregnant women (NPCTR), patients with ischaemic cardiomyopathy (ICM), patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) and healthy controls (HCTR). Peripartum cardiomyopathy treated with bromocriptine (PPCM-BR) and with PPCM without bromocriptine-treatment as control (PPCM-BRCTR) were compared. Microparticles were determined by flow cytometry. Endothelial MPs (EMPs) were elevated in PPCM compared with PPCTR, PCTR, and NPCTR, each P< 0.001. They were significantly elevated compared with ICM, CAD, and HCTR (P< 0.001). Pregnancy (PCTR) exhibited only slight increases vs. ICM, CAD, NPCTR, and HCTR. The increase in PPCM was due to an increase of activated but not apoptotic EMPs. Platelet-derived microparticles were highly increased in PPCM compared with ICM (P< 0.001) but 9.3 ± 4.4-fold compared with CAD (P< 0.001). In NPCTR (P< 0.001) compared with NPCTR, the increase was 5.9 ± 1.7-fold (P< 0.001). Microparticles generated from monocytes (MMPs) were increased 2.4 ± 1.8-fold in PPCM compared with PCTR (P< 0.001) and 4.8 ± 3.6-fold compared with CAD (P< 0.001), whereas leucocyte MPs (LMPs) were not significantly elevated. Endothelial microparticles were significantly reduced in PPCM treated additionally with bromocriptine compared with PPCM treated only with heart failure therapy (P< 0.001).
Conclusion: Microparticle profiles may in long-term distinguish PPCM from normal pregnancy, heart failure, and vascular diseases and might be a diagnostic marker related to the pathomechanism of PPCM.