Design and rationale of a clinical trial to increase cardiomyocyte division in infants with tetralogy of Fallot

Int J Cardiol. 2021 Sep 15:339:36-42. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2021.07.020. Epub 2021 Jul 12.


Background: Patients with Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary stenosis (ToF/PS), the most common form of cyanotic congenital heart disease (CHD), develop adverse right ventricular (RV) remodeling, leading to late heart failure and arrhythmia. We recently demonstrated that overactive β-adrenergic receptor signaling inhibits cardiomyocyte division in ToF/PS infants, providing a conceptual basis for the hypothesis that treatment with the β-adrenergic receptor blocker, propranolol, early in life would increase cardiomyocyte division. No data are available in ToF/PS infants on the efficacy of propranolol as a possible novel therapeutic option to increase cardiomyocyte division and potentially reduce adverse RV remodeling.

Methods: Using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we will evaluate the effect of propranolol administration on reactivating cardiomyocyte proliferation to prevent adverse RV remodeling in 40 infants with ToF/PS. Propranolol administration (1 mg/kg po QID) will begin at 1 month of age and last until surgical repair. The primary endpoint is cardiomyocyte division, quantified after 15N-thymidine administration with Multi-isotope Imaging Mass Spectrometry (MIMS) analysis of resected myocardial specimens. The secondary endpoints are changes in RV myocardial and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy.

Conclusion: This trial will be the first study in humans to assess whether cardiomyocyte proliferation can be pharmacologically increased. If successful, the results could introduce a paradigm shift in the management of patients with ToF/PS from a purely surgical approach, to synergistic medical and surgical management. It will provide the basis for future multi-center randomized controlled trials of propranolol administration in infants with ToF/PS and other types of CHD with RV hypertension.

Clinical trial registration: The trial protocol was registered at (NCT04713657).

Keywords: Beta-blocker; Cardiomyocyte division; Congenital heart disease; Tetralogy of Fallot; Ventricular hypertrophy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Myocytes, Cardiac
  • Pulmonary Valve Stenosis*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2
  • Tetralogy of Fallot* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tetralogy of Fallot* / surgery
  • Ventricular Remodeling


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2

Associated data