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1.  Early Inflammatory Markers Are Independent Predictors of Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy in Heart-Transplant Recipients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113260.
Background
Identification of risk is essential to prevent cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) and graft failure due to CAV (GFDCAV) in heart transplant patients, which account for 30% of all deaths. Early CAV detection involves invasive, risky, and expensive monitoring approaches. We determined whether prediction of CAV and GFDCAV improves by adding inflammatory markers to a previously validated atherothrombotic (AT) model.
Methods and Findings
AT and inflammatory markers interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured in heart biopsies and sera of 172 patients followed prospectively for 8.9±5.0 years. Models were estimated for 5- and 10-year risk using (1) the first post-transplant biopsy only, or (2) all biopsies obtained within 3 months. Multivariate models were adjusted for other covariates and cross-validated by bootstrapping. After adding IL-6 and CRP to the AT models, we evaluated the significance of odds ratios (ORs) associated with the additional inflammatory variables and the degree of improvement in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC). When inflammatory markers were tested alone in prediction models, CRP (not IL-6) was a significant predictor of CAV and GFDCAV at 5 (CAV: p<0.0001; GFDCAV: p = 0.005) and 10 years (CAV: p<0.0001; GFDCAV: p = 0.003). Adding CRP (not IL-6) to the best AT models improved discriminatory power to identify patients destined to develop CAV (using 1st biopsy: p<0.001 and p = 0.001; using all 3-month biopsies: p<0.04 and p = 0.008 at 5- and 10-years, respectively) and GFDCAV (using 1st biopsy: 0.92 vs. 0.95 and 0.86 vs. 0.89; using all 3-month biopsies: 0.94 vs. 0.96 and 0.88 vs. 0.89 at 5- and 10-years, respectively), as indicated by an increase in AUROC.
Conclusions
Early inflammatory status, measured by a patient's CRP level (a non-invasive, safe and inexpensive test), independently predicts CAV and GFDCAV. Adding CRP to a previously established AT model improves its predictive power.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113260
PMCID: PMC4260824  PMID: 25490200
2.  Molecular basis for impaired collateral artery growth in the spontaneously hypertensive rat: insight from microarray analysis 
Physiological Reports  2013;1(2):e0005.
Analysis of global gene expression in mesenteric control and collateral arteries was used to investigate potential molecules, pathways, and mechanisms responsible for impaired collateral growth in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat (SHR). A fundamental difference was observed in overall gene expression pattern in SHR versus Wistar Kyoto (WKY) collaterals; only 6% of genes altered in collaterals were similar between rat strains. Ingenuity® Pathway Analysis (IPA) identified major differences between WKY and SHR in networks and biological functions related to cell growth and proliferation and gene expression. In SHR control arteries, several mechano-sensitive and redox-dependent transcription regulators were downregulated including JUN (−5.2×, P = 0.02), EGR1 (−4.1×, P = 0.01), and NFĸB1 (−1.95×, P = 0.04). Predicted binding sites for NFĸB and AP-1 were present in genes altered in WKY but not SHR collaterals. Immunostaining showed increased NFĸB nuclear translocation in collateral arteries of WKY and apocynin-treated SHR, but not in untreated SHR. siRNA for the p65 subunit suppressed collateral growth in WKY, confirming a functional role of NFkB. Canonical pathways identified by IPA in WKY but not SHR included nitric oxide and renin–angiotensin system signaling. The angiotensin type 1 receptor (AGTR1) exhibited upregulation in WKY collaterals, but downregulation in SHR; pharmacological blockade of AGTR1 with losartan prevented collateral luminal expansion in WKY. Together, these results suggest that collateral growth impairment results from an abnormality in a fundamental regulatory mechanism that occurs at a level between signal transduction and gene transcription and implicate redox-dependent modulation of mechano-sensitive transcription factors such as NFĸB as a potential mechanism.
doi:10.1002/phy2.5
PMCID: PMC3831906  PMID: 24303120
Arteriogenesis; collateral gene expression; microarray analysis; peripheral vascular disease
3.  Value of the First Post-Transplant Biopsy for Predicting Long-Term Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy (CAV) and Graft Failure in Heart Transplant Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36100.
Background
Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) is the principal cause of long-term graft failure following heart transplantation. Early identification of patients at risk of CAV is essential to target invasive follow-up procedures more effectively and to establish appropriate therapies. We evaluated the prognostic value of the first heart biopsy (median: 9 days post-transplant) versus all biopsies obtained within the first three months for the prediction of CAV and graft failure due to CAV.
Methods and Findings
In a prospective cohort study, we developed multivariate regression models evaluating markers of atherothrombosis (fibrin, antithrombin and tissue plasminogen activator [tPA]) and endothelial activation (intercellular adhesion molecule-1) in serial biopsies obtained during the first three months post-transplantation from 172 patients (median follow-up = 6.3 years; min = 0.37 years, max = 16.3 years). Presence of fibrin was the dominant predictor in first-biopsy models (Odds Ratio [OR] for one- and 10-year graft failure due to CAV = 38.70, p = 0.002, 95% CI = 4.00–374.77; and 3.99, p = 0.005, 95% CI = 1.53–10.40) and loss of tPA was predominant in three-month models (OR for one- and 10-year graft failure due to CAV = 1.81, p = 0.025, 95% CI = 1.08–3.03; and 1.31, p = 0.001, 95% CI = 1.12–1.55). First-biopsy and three-month models had similar predictive and discriminative accuracy and were comparable in their capacities to correctly classify patient outcomes, with the exception of 10-year graft failure due to CAV in which the three-month model was more predictive. Both models had particularly high negative predictive values (e.g., First-biopsy vs. three-month models: 99% vs. 100% at 1-year and 96% vs. 95% at 10-years).
Conclusions
Patients with absence of fibrin in the first biopsy and persistence of normal tPA in subsequent biopsies rarely develop CAV or graft failure during the next 10 years and potentially could be monitored less invasively. Presence of early risk markers in the transplanted heart may be secondary to ischemia/reperfusion injury, a potentially modifiable factor.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036100
PMCID: PMC3338502  PMID: 22558345
4.  Hypoxia Increases Placenta Growth Factor Expression in Human Myocardium and Cultured Neonatal Rat Cardiomyocytes 
Background
Placenta growth factor (PlGF) plays an important role in pathological angiogenesis and is thought to be an independent biomarker in patients with coronary artery disease. However, little is known regarding the regulation of PlGF expression in heart tissue.
Methods
We determined expression changes in PlGF and its receptor, VEGFR1, in normal and abnormal biopsies from human cardiac allografts and in cardiomyocytes cultured under hypoxia or cyclical stretch conditions.
Results
Human donor myocardium and biopsies from allografts without fibrin deposits expressed PlGF and VEGFR1 mRNA. Biopsies (n = 7) with myocardial fibrin, elevated serum cardiac troponin I titers (p < 0.03) and cellular infiltrates (p < 0.05), expressed 1.6-fold more PlGF mRNA than biopsies from allografts without fibrin (n=11; p < 0.05). PlGF protein was localized in cardiomyocytes, extracellular matrix and some microvessels in areas with fibrin deposition. VEGFR1 mRNA expression was not different between groups. Cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes constitutively expressed PlGF/VEGFR1 under normoxia. PlGF expression was increased 3.88 ± 0.62 fold after 12 hours (n = 6; p ≤ 0.05) and 3.64 ± 0.41 fold after 24 hours of hypoxia (n = 6; p ≤ 0.05). Shorter periods of hypoxia, conditioned media from hypoxic cells and cyclical stretch did not significantly alter PlGF or VEGFR1 expression.
Conclusion
Cardiomyocyte PIGF expression is upregulated by hypoxia in vitro and its expression increases significantly in allografts with myocardial damage. Collectively, these results provide important temporal and spatial evidence that endogenous PlGF could facilitate cardiac healing following myocardial hypoxia/ischemia.
doi:10.1016/j.healun.2008.11.917
PMCID: PMC2885281  PMID: 19201345
angiogenesis; hypoxia; growth factors; gene expression; cardiomyocyte
5.  Precision of Biomarkers to Define Chronic Inflammation in CKD 
American journal of nephrology  2008;28(5):808-812.
Background/Aims
Several inflammatory biomarkers have been found to be associated with cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality in dialysis patients, but their usefulness in clinical practice or as surrogate endpoints is not certain. The purpose of the present study was to determine the intrapatient variation of C-reactive protein, IL-6, fetuin-A and albumin in a population of dialysis patients.
Methods
Apparently healthy dialysis patients with either a tunneled dialysis catheter or fistula had monthly assessments of these biomarkers for a total of four determinations, and the intraclass correlation coefficients were calculated as measures of intersubject variance.
Results
Our results showed large within-subject variation relative to the total variation in the measurements (31-46%). Having a tunneled catheter as opposed to a fistula was not significantly associated with mean levels, suggesting that chronic subclinical catheter infection does not explain the variation seen in the biomarkers. In contrast, there was a rapid change in these biomarkers with a clinically apparent acute infection.
Conclusion
These results suggest that these biomarkers have limitations for use as surrogate endpoints in clinical trials due to wide fluctuations, even in apparently clinically healthy individuals.
doi:10.1159/000135692
PMCID: PMC2574778  PMID: 18506106
Biomarkers, precision; Chronic inflammation; Chronic kidney disease; CKD stage 5D; Inflammatory biomarkers, intrapatient variance; Tunneled dialysis catheter
6.  Precision of Biomarkers to Define Chronic Inflammation in CKD 
American Journal of Nephrology  2008;28(5):808-812.
Background/Aims
Several inflammatory biomarkers have been found to be associated with cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality in dialysis patients, but their usefulness in clinical practice or as surrogate endpoints is not certain. The purpose of the present study was to determine the intrapatient variation of C-reactive protein, IL-6, fetuin-A and albumin in a population of dialysis patients.
Methods
Apparently healthy dialysis patients with either a tunneled dialysis catheter or fistula had monthly assessments of these biomarkers for a total of four determinations, and the intraclass correlation coefficients were calculated as measures of intersubject variance.
Results
Our results showed large within-subject variation relative to the total variation in the measurements (31–46%). Having a tunneled catheter as opposed to a fistula was not significantly associated with mean levels, suggesting that chronic subclinical catheter infection does not explain the variation seen in the biomarkers. In contrast, there was a rapid change in these biomarkers with a clinically apparent acute infection.
Conclusion
These results suggest that these biomarkers have limitations for use as surrogate endpoints in clinical trials due to wide fluctuations, even in apparently clinically healthy individuals.
doi:10.1159/000135692
PMCID: PMC2574778  PMID: 18506106
Biomarkers, precision; Chronic inflammation; Chronic kidney disease; CKD stage 5D; Inflammatory biomarkers, intrapatient variance; Tunneled dialysis catheter

Results 1-6 (6)