Background: Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) is a leading cause of retransplantation and death in pediatric heart transplant recipients. Our aim was to evaluate the association between serum vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) and CAV development in the pediatric heart transplant population. Methods: In this retrospective study performed at a university hospital, VEGF concentrations were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in banked serum from pediatric heart transplant recipients undergoing routine cardiac catheterization. In subjects with CAV (n = 29), samples were obtained at 2 time-points: before CAV diagnosis (pre-CAV) and at the time of initial CAV diagnosis (CAV). In subjects without CAV (no-CAV, n = 16), only 1 time-point was used. VEGF concentrations (n = 74) were assayed in duplicate. Results: Serum VEGF is elevated in pediatric heart transplant recipients before catheter-based diagnosis of CAV (no-CAV mean: 144.0 ± 89.05 pg/ml; pre-CAV mean: 316.2 ± 118.3 pg/ml; p = 0.0002). Receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis of pre-CAV VEGF levels demonstrated an area under the curve of 87.7% (p = 0.0002), with a VEGF level of 226.3 pg/ml predicting CAV development with 77.8% sensitivity and 91.7% specificity. VEGF is similarly elevated in subjects with angiographically diagnosed CAV and in those with normal angiography but intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) evidence of CAV. Conclusions: The increase in serum VEGF before onset of detectable CAV is fundamental to its utility as a predictive biomarker and suggests further investigations of VEGF in the pathogenesis of CAV are warranted in the pediatric heart transplant population.
- cardiac allograft vasculopathy
- heart transplant
- vascular endothelial growth factor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine