Aims: Inflammation is a central process in the pathophysiology of heart failure (HF), but trials targeting tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α were largely unsuccessful. Interleukin (IL)-6 is an important inflammatory mediator and might constitute a potential pharmacologic target in HF. However, little is known regarding the association between IL-6 and clinical characteristics, outcomes and other inflammatory biomarkers in HF. We thus aimed to identify and characterize these associations.
Methods and results: Interleukin-6 was measured in 2329 patients [89.4% with a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≤ 40%] of the BIOSTAT-CHF cohort. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality and HF hospitalization during 2 years, with all-cause, cardiovascular (CV), and non-CV death as secondary outcomes. Approximately half (56%) of all included patients had plasma IL-6 values greater than the previously determined 95th percentile of normal values at baseline. Elevated N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide, procalcitonin and hepcidin, younger age, TNF-α/IL-1-related biomarkers, or having iron deficiency, atrial fibrillation and LVEF > 40% independently predicted elevated IL-6 levels. IL-6 independently predicted the primary outcome [HR (95% confidence interval) per doubling: 1.16 (1.11-1.21), P < 0.001], all-cause mortality [1.22 (1.16-1.29), P < 0.001] and CV as well as non-CV mortality [1.16 (1.09-1.24), P < 0.001; 1.31 (1.18-1.45), P < 0.001], but did not improve discrimination in previously published risk models.
Conclusions: In a large, heterogeneous cohort of HF patients, elevated IL-6 levels were found in more than 50% of patients and were associated with iron deficiency, reduced LVEF, atrial fibrillation and poorer clinical outcomes. These findings warrant further investigation of IL-6 as a potential therapeutic target in specific HF subpopulations.
Keywords: Adverse events; Anaemia; Heart failure; Inflammation; Interleukin-6; Procalcitonin.
© 2019 The Authors. European Journal of Heart Failure published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Society of Cardiology.