Aims: Chronic heart failure is a costly epidemic that affects up to 2% of people in developed countries. The purpose of this study was to discover novel blood proteomic biomarker signatures of recovered heart function that could lead to more effective heart failure patient management by both primary care and specialty physicians.
Methods and results: The discovery cohort included 41 heart transplant patients and 20 healthy individuals. Plasma levels of 138 proteins were detected in at least 75% of these subjects by iTRAQ mass spectrometry. Eighteen proteins were identified that had (i) differential levels between pre-transplant patients with end-stage heart failure and healthy individuals; and (ii) levels that returned to normal by 1 month post-transplant in patients with stable heart function after transplantation. Seventeen of the 18 markers were validated by multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry in a cohort of 39 heart failure patients treated with drug therapy, of which 30 had recovered heart function and 9 had not. This 17-protein biomarker panel had 93% sensitivity and 89% specificity, while the RAMP® NT-proBNP assay had the same specificity but 80% sensitivity. Performance further improved when the panel was combined with NT-proBNP, yielding a net reclassification index relative to NT-proBNP of 0.28.
Conclusions: We have identified potential blood biomarkers of recovered heart function by harnessing data from transplant patients. These biomarkers can lead to the development of an inexpensive protein-based blood test that could be used by physicians to monitor response to therapy in heart failure, resulting in more personalized, front-line heart failure patient management.
Keywords: Biomarker; Heart failure; Plasma, proteins; RAMP®; Ventricular recovery.
© 2014 The Authors. European Journal of Heart Failure © 2014 European Society of Cardiology.