Background: Friedreich's ataxia (FA) is a rare autosomal recessive mitochondrial disease resulting of a triplet repeat expansion guanine-adenine-adenine (GAA) in the frataxin (FXN) gene, exhibiting progressive cerebellar ataxia, diabetes and cardiomyopathy. We aimed to determine the relationship between cardiac biomarkers, serum N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), and serum cardiac high-sensitivity troponin (hsTnT) concentrations, and the extent of genetic abnormality and cardiac parameters.
Methods: Between 2013 and 2015, 85 consecutive genetically confirmed FA adult patients were prospectively evaluated by measuring plasma hsTnT and NT-proBNP concentrations, electrocardiogram, and echocardiography.
Results: The 85 FA patients (49% women) with a mean age of 39 ± 12 years, a mean disease onset of 17 ± 11 years had a mean SARA (Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia) score of 26 ± 10. The median hsTnT concentration was 10 ng/L (3 to 85 ng/L) and 34% had a significant elevated hsTnT ≥ 14 ng/L. Increased septal wall thickness was associated with increased hsTnT plasma levels (p < 0.001). The median NT-proBNP concentration was 31 ng/L (5 to 775 ng/L) and 14% had significant elevated NT-proBNP ≥ 125 ng/L. Markers of increased left ventricular filling pressure (trans mitral E/A and lateral E/E' ratio) were associated with increased NT-proBNP plasma levels (p = 0.01 and p = 0.01). Length of GAA or the SARA score were not associated with hsTnT or NT-proBNP plasma levels.
Conclusion: hsTnT was increased in 1/3 of the adult FA and associated with increased septal wall thickness. Increased NT-proBNP remained a marker of increased left ventricular filling pressure. This could be used to identify patients that should undergo a closer cardiac surveillance.
Keywords: Friedreich ataxia; NT-proBNP; cardiomyopathy; hs troponin.