Elevations in High-Sensitive Cardiac Troponin T and N-Terminal Prohormone Brain Natriuretic Peptide Levels in the Serum Can Predict the Development of Anthracycline-Induced Cardiomyopathy

Am J Ther. 2020 Mar/Apr;27(2):e142-e150. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000930.


Background: Anthracyclines remain the cornerstone of the treatment in many cancers including lymphomas, leukemia and sarcomas, and breast cancer. The cardiomyopathy that develops from anthracyclines can lead to heart failure and decreased survival. Multiple mechanisms are involved in the pathophysiology of anthracycline-induced heart failure.

Study question: We hypothesize that anthracycline-induced cardiac (AIC) pathology can be monitored using a panel of blood biomarkers including high-sensitive cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) for myocyte necrosis and N-terminal prohormone brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) for parietal stress.

Study design: A prospective, institutionally approved study recruited all patients with cancer scheduled to start anthracycline chemotherapy in the Transylvania University cancer clinics.

Measures and outcomes: Transthoracic 2D echocardiography and the measurements of NT-proBNP and hs-cTnT plasma levels were performed at the beginning of the study and 3 months and 6 months after anthracycline treatment initiation.

Results: The plasma levels of hs-cTnT at 3 months (rho = 0.439, P = 0.0001) and 6 months (rho = 0.490, P = 0.0001) are correlated with AIC occurrence. For a cutoff value of hs-cTnT at 3 months > 0.008 ng/mL, we obtained 66.7% sensitivity and 67.9% specificity for developing AIC at 6 months, with a 54.5% positive predictive value and a 87.8% negative predictive value. The NT-proBNP serum levels at 3 months (rho = 0.495, P = 0.0001) and 6 months (rho = 0.638, P = 0.0001) are correlated with an AIC diagnosis at 6 months. For a cutoff value of NT-proBNP at 3 months >118.5 pg/mL, we obtained 80% sensitivity and 79.2% specificity for evolution to AIC at 6 months, with 52.2% positive predictive value and 93.3% negative predictive value.

Conclusions: In anthracycline-treated cancer patients, the increase in plasma levels of NT-proBNP and of hs-cTnT can predict the development of anthracycline-induced cardiomyopathy. Early identification of at-risk patients will potentially allow for targeted dose reductions and will diminish the number of patients developing cardiac pathology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthracyclines / adverse effects*
  • Anthracyclines / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiomyopathies / blood*
  • Cardiomyopathies / chemically induced*
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnostic imaging
  • Doxorubicin / adverse effects
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood*
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protein Precursors / blood*
  • Stroke Volume
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Troponin T / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Anthracyclines
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Protein Precursors
  • TNNT2 protein, human
  • Troponin T
  • prepro-brain natriuretic peptide
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • Doxorubicin