Biomarkers in pulmonary hypertension: what do we know?

Chest. 2013 Jul;144(1):274-283. doi: 10.1378/chest.12-1246.


Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a hemodynamic condition that has a poor prognosis and can lead to right-sided heart failure. It may result from common diseases such as left-sided heart or lung disease or may present as the rare entity of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. Biomarkers that specifically indicate the pathologic mechanism, the severity of the disease, and the treatment response would be ideal tools for the management of PH. In this review, markers related to heart failure, inflammation, hemostasis, remodeling, and endothelial cell-smooth muscle cell interaction are discussed, and their limitations are emphasized. Anemia, hypocarbia, elevated uric acid, and C-reactive protein levels are unspecific markers of disease severity. Brain natriuretic peptide and N-terminal fragment of pro-brain natriuretic peptide have been recommended in current guidelines, whereas other prognostic markers, such as growth differentiation factor-15, osteopontin, and red cell distribution width, are emerging. Chemokines of the CC family and matrix metalloproteases have been linked to the vascular pathologic mechanisms, and new markers such as apelin have been described. Circulating endothelial and progenitor cells have received much attention as markers of disease activity, but with controversial findings. A lack of standards for cell isolation and characterization methods and differences in the pathologic mechanisms of the investigated patients may have contributed to the discrepancies. In conclusion, although several promising markers have been identified over the past few years, the development of more specific markers, standardization, and prospective validation are warranted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Familial Primary Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Growth Differentiation Factor 15 / blood
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / blood*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood*
  • Osteopontin / blood
  • Peptide Fragments / blood*
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers
  • Growth Differentiation Factor 15
  • Peptide Fragments
  • pro-brain natriuretic peptide (1-76)
  • Osteopontin
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain