Metabolomic Signatures Associated With Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Outcomes

Circ Res. 2023 Jan 4. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.122.321923. Online ahead of print.


Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a complex disease characterized by progressive right ventricular (RV) failure leading to significant morbidity and mortality. Investigating metabolic features and pathways associated with RV dilation, mortality, and measures of disease severity can provide insight into molecular mechanisms, identify subphenotypes, and suggest potential therapeutic targets.

Methods: We collected data from a prospective cohort of PAH participants and performed untargeted metabolomic profiling on 1045 metabolites from circulating blood. Analyses were intended to identify metabolomic differences across a range of common metrics in PAH (eg, dilated versus nondilated RV). Partial least squares discriminant analysis was first applied to assess the distinguishability of relevant outcomes. Significantly altered metabolites were then identified using linear regression, and Cox regression models (as appropriate for the specific outcome) with adjustments for age, sex, body mass index, and PAH cause. Models exploring RV maladaptation were further adjusted for pulmonary vascular resistance. Pathway enrichment analysis was performed to identify significantly dysregulated processes.

Results: A total of 117 participants with PAH were included. Partial least squares discriminant analysis showed cluster differentiation between participants with dilated versus nondilated RVs, survivors versus nonsurvivors, and across a range of NT-proBNP (N-terminal probrain natriuretic peptide) levels, REVEAL 2.0 composite scores, and 6-minute-walk distances. Polyamine and histidine pathways were associated with differences in RV dilation, mortality, NT-proBNP, REVEAL score, and 6-minute walk distance. Acylcarnitine pathways were associated with NT-proBNP, REVEAL score, and 6-minute walk distance. Sphingomyelin pathways were associated with RV dilation and NT-proBNP after adjustment for pulmonary vascular resistance.

Conclusions: Distinct plasma metabolomic profiles are associated with RV dilation, mortality, and measures of disease severity in PAH. Polyamine, histidine, and sphingomyelin metabolic pathways represent promising candidates for identifying patients at high risk for poor outcomes and investigation into their roles as markers or mediators of disease progression and RV adaptation.

Keywords: least square analysis; metabolomics; mortality; pulmonary arterial hypertension; sphingomyelin.