Blood biomarkers and their potential role in pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with congenital heart disease. a systematic review

Int J Cardiol. 2014 Jul 1;174(3):618-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2014.04.156. Epub 2014 Apr 22.


Background: The development of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) is multifactorial with a number of biomarkers serving as mediators of neurohormonal activation [B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and its N-terminal-pro-fragment (NT-proBNP)], endothelial dysfunction [asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA)] and cellular proliferation [vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)].

Methods: We systematically reviewed the literature for trials studying the role of these biomarkers in the clinical evaluation, prognosis and management of patients with PAH related to CHD (CHD-PAH).

Results: Twenty-six studies were included in the systematic review, involving a total of 1113 patients with CHD-PAH. These patients had higher BNP, NT-proBNP and ADMA levels and higher VEGF expression when compared with healthy controls. Baseline and serial values of plasma levels of natriuretic peptides were shown to be significant predictors of survival. ADMA concentration was elevated in patients with CHD-PAH when compared with patients with simple CHD without PAH, whereas VEGF expression was particularly high in patients with CHD and persistent PAH after corrective surgery of the underlying heart disease.

Conclusion: Right heart dysfunction, endothelial inflammation and proliferation are mirrored by plasma levels of the corresponding biomarkers among patients with CHD-PAH. There is early evidence to suggest that natriuretic peptides, in particular, may be a simple and effective tool for determining prognosis and timing for therapeutic interventions in patients with CHD-PAH.

Keywords: Asymmetric dimethylarginine; Brain natriuretic peptide; Congenital heart disease; Endothelial dysfunction; Pulmonary hypertension; Vascular endothelial growth factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / blood*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / blood*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain