Isoproterenol improves hemodynamics and right ventricle-pulmonary artery coupling after heart transplantation

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2024 Jul 1;327(1):H131-H137. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00200.2024. Epub 2024 May 3.


Right ventricular failure (RVF) is a major cause of early mortality after heart transplantation (HT). Isoproterenol (Iso) has chronotropic, inotropic, and vasodilatory properties, which might improve right ventricle function in this setting. We aimed to investigate the hemodynamic effects of isoproterenol on patients with post-HT RVF. We conducted a 1-yr retrospective observational study including patients receiving isoproterenol (Iso) and dobutamine for early RVF after HT. A comprehensive multiparametric hemodynamic evaluation was performed successively three times: no isoproterenol, low doses: 0.025 µg/kg/min, and high doses: 0.05 µg/kg/min (henceforth, respectively, called no Iso, low Iso, and high Iso). From June 2022 to June 2023, 25 patients, median [interquartile range (IQR) 25-75] age 54 [38-61] yr, were included. Before isoproterenol was introduced, all patients received dobutamine, and 15 (60%) were on venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO). Isoproterenol significantly increased heart rate from 84 [77-99] (no Iso) to 91 [88-106] (low Iso) and 102 [90-122] beats/min (high Iso, P < 0.001). Similarly, cardiac index rose from 2.3 [1.4-3.1] to 2.7 [1.8-3.4] and 3 [1.9-3.7] L/min/m2 (P < 0.001) with a concomitant increase in indexed stroke volume (28 [17-34] to 31 [20-34] and 33 [23-35] mL/m2, P < 0.05). Effective pulmonary arterial elastance and pressures were not modified by isoproterenol. Pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) tended to decrease from 2.9 [1.4-3.6] to 2.3 [1.3-3.5] wood units (WU), P = 0.06. Right ventricular ejection fraction/systolic pulmonary artery pressure (sPAP) evaluating right ventricle-pulmonary artery (RV-PA) coupling increased after isoproterenol from 0.8 to 0.9 and 1%·mmHg-1 (P = 0.001). In conclusion, in post-HT RVF, isoproterenol exhibits chronotropic and inotropic effects, thereby improving RV-PA coupling and resulting in a clinically relevant increase in the cardiac index.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study offers a detailed and comprehensive hemodynamic investigation at the bedside, illustrating the favorable impact of isoproterenol on right ventricular-pulmonary arterial coupling and global hemodynamics. It elucidates the physiological effects of an underused inotropic strategy in a critical clinical scenario. By enhancing cardiac hemodynamics, isoproterenol has the potential to expedite right ventricular recovery and mitigate primary graft dysfunction, thereby reducing the duration of mechanical support and intensive care unit stay posttransplantation.

Keywords: RV-PA coupling; heart transplantation; hemodynamics; isoproterenol; right ventricular failure.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacology
  • Dobutamine / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Heart Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Hemodynamics* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Isoproterenol* / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Artery* / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Artery* / physiopathology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right* / etiology
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right* / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Function, Right* / drug effects


  • Isoproterenol
  • Dobutamine
  • Cardiotonic Agents