Elevated Cardiac Troponin T in Patients With Skeletal Myopathies

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 Apr 10;71(14):1540-1549. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.01.070.


Background: Cardiac troponins are often elevated in patients with skeletal muscle disease who have no evidence of cardiac disease.

Objectives: The goal of this study was to characterize cardiac troponin concentrations in patients with myopathies and derive insights regarding the source of elevated troponin T measurements.

Methods: Cardiac troponin T (cTnT) and cardiac troponin I (cTnI) concentrations were determined by using high sensitivity assays in 74 patients with hereditary and acquired skeletal myopathies. Patients underwent comprehensive cardiac evaluation, including 12-lead electrocardiogram, 24-h electrocardiogram, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and coronary artery computed tomography. cTnT and cTnI protein expression was determined in skeletal muscle samples of 9 patients and in control tissues derived from autopsy using antibodies that are used in commercial assays. Relevant Western blot bands were subjected to liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry for protein identification.

Results: Levels of cTnT (median: 24 ng/l; interquartile range: 11 to 54 ng/l) were elevated (>14 ng/l) in 68.9% of patients; cTnI was elevated (>26 ng/l) in 4.1% of patients. Serum cTnT levels significantly correlated with creatine kinase and myoglobin (r = 0.679 and 0.786, respectively; both p < 0.001). Based on cTnT serial testing, 30.1% would have fulfilled current rule-in criteria for myocardial infarction. Noncoronary cardiac disease was present in 23%. Using cTnT antibodies, positive bands were found in both diseased and healthy skeletal muscle at molecular weights approximately 5 kDa below cTnT. Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry identified the presence of skeletal troponin T isoforms in these bands.

Conclusions: Measured cTnT concentrations were chronically elevated in the majority of patients with skeletal myopathies, whereas cTnI elevation was rare. Our data indicate that cross-reaction of the cTnT immunoassay with skeletal muscle troponin isoforms was the likely cause.

Keywords: cardiac troponin; myopathy; skeletal muscle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blotting, Western
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscular Diseases / blood*
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Troponin T / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Troponin T