Growth differentiation factor 15 predicts poor prognosis in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction and anemia: results from RED-HF

Clin Res Cardiol. 2021 Oct 5. doi: 10.1007/s00392-021-01944-6. Online ahead of print.


Aims: We aimed to assess the value of GDF-15, a stress-responsive cytokine, in predicting clinical outcomes in patients with heart failure (HF) with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) and anemia METHODS AND RESULTS: Serum GDF-15 was assessed in 1582 HFrEF and mild-to-moderate anemia patients who where followed for 28 months in the Reduction of Events by Darbepoetin alfa in Heart Failure (RED-HF) trial, an overall neutral RCT evaluating the effect darbepoetin alfa on clinical outcomes in patients with systolic heart failure and mild-to-moderate anemia. Association between baseline and change in GDF-15 during 6 months follow-up and the primary composite outcome of all-cause death or HF hospitalization were evaluated in multivariable Cox-models adjusted for conventional clinical and biochemical risk factors. The adjusted risk for the primary outcome increased with (i) successive tertiles of baseline GDF-15 (tertile 3 HR 1.56 [1.23-1.98] p < 0.001) as well as with (ii) a 15% increase in GDF-15 levels over 6 months of follow-up (HR 1.68 [1.38-2.06] p < 0.001). Addition of change in GDF-15 to the fully adjusted model improved the C-statistics (p < 0.001). No interaction between treatment and baseline or change in GDF-15 on outcome was observed. GDF-15 was inversely associated with several indices of anemia and correlated positively with ferritin.

Conclusions: In patients with HF and anemia, both higher baseline serum GDF-15 levels and an increase in GDF-15 during follow-up, were associated with worse clinical outcomes. GDF-15 did not identify subgroups of patients who might benefit from correction of anemia but was associated with several indices of anemia and iron status in the HF patients.

Keywords: Anemia; GDF-15; Heart failure; Prognosis.