Fontan-associated protein-losing enteropathy and heart transplant: A Pediatric Heart Transplant Study analysis

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2015 Sep;34(9):1169-76. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2015.03.022. Epub 2015 Mar 30.


Background: Post-Fontan protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Although heart transplantation (HTx) can be curative, PLE may increase the risk of morbidity before and after HTx. This study analyzed the influence of PLE influence on waiting list and post-HTx outcomes in a pediatric cohort.

Methods: Fontan patients listed for HTx and enrolled in the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study from 1999 to 2012 were stratified by a diagnosis of PLE, and the association of PLE with waiting list and post-HTx mortality, rejection, and infection was analyzed.

Results: Compared with non-PLE Fontan patients (n = 260), PLE patients listed for HTx (n = 96) were older (11.9 years vs 7.6 years; p = 0.003), had a larger body surface area (1.1 m(2) vs 0.9 m(2); p = 0.0001), had lower serum bilirubin (0.5 vs 0.9 mg/dl; p = 0.01), lower B-type natriuretic peptide (59 vs 227 pg/ml; p = 0.006), and were less likely to be on a ventilator (3% vs 13%; p = 0.006). PLE patients had lower waiting list mortality than non-PLE Fontan patients (p < 0.0001). There were no intergroup differences for post-HTx survival or times to the first infection or rejection. PLE was not independently associated with increased post-HTx mortality at any time point.

Conclusions: In this multicenter cohort, the diagnosis of PLE alone was not associated with increased waiting list mortality or post-HTx morbidity or mortality. Given the limitations of our data, this analysis suggests that PLE patients in the pediatric age group have outcomes similar to their non-PLE counterparts. Additional multicenter studies of PLE patients with targeted collection of PLE-specific information will be necessary to fully delineate the risks conferred by PLE for HTx.

Keywords: Fontan; heart transplantation; pediatric; protein-losing enteropathy; waiting list.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Body Surface Area
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fontan Procedure / adverse effects*
  • Graft Rejection
  • Heart Transplantation* / mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathies / etiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventilators, Mechanical


  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • Bilirubin