For the past couple of decades, many U.S. transplant centers have used a biomarker called troponin as one way to determine whether a donor heart is suitable for implantation. In an organ that is considered otherwise usable, an elevated level of troponin — a protein found in the bloodstream — is considered a reliable indicator of heart muscle damage. Many transplant centers would reject such a heart.

The problem is that the test’s reliability is based on small studies that showed mixed results, as well as anecdotal information. Using this test may have led to discarding donor hearts that would have functioned well, even as the waiting list for a heart grows.

More than 4,100 people need a heart transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit organization that runs the U.S. organ procurement and transplantation network, but only one in three donor hearts is judged acceptable.

Donated organs kept 'alive' may ease transplant shortage

Now the first large-scale study of troponin as a biomarker for donor hearts has found that there is no difference in patient survival or typical post-transplant complications when donors have elevated levels of the biomarker. Widespread use of those hearts would provide a small increase in the availability of the organs, perhaps 70 or 80 each year, according to the physician who led the study. Last year, 2,804 heart transplants were performed in the United States.

'There is no significant association between elevated donor troponin I level, a biomarker of cardiac injury, and recipient survival for up to five years post-transplant,' the researchers wrote in a study released Tuesday in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure. The team was led by Snehal Patel, an assistant professor of medicine at Montefiore Medical Center, part of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.

The researchers looked at 10,943 recipients of hearts whose donors had high levels of troponin in their blood between 2007 and 2014. In addition to survival rates, the researchers considered rates of primary graft failure — a severe dysfunction of the transplanted heart — and cardiac allograft vasculopathy — an aggressive form of coronary artery disease — that are both complications after transplants. Researchers found no association between high levels of the biomarker and those conditions.

White House, private sector act to reduce organ transplant waiting list

In an editorial that accompanies the study, two Stanford University School of Medicine doctors expressed hope that the research 'will represent a concrete step toward safely expanding donor heart utilization.'

Patel said his transplant center has adopted a new standard for use of hearts with higher levels of troponin, resulting in acceptance of a few more donor hearts that otherwise would have been turned down. He said he hopes others will look at the study and consider the move.

Transplant centers 'are scared to push the boundaries,' he said. 'They need data.'

Headlines
Shopping for Omega-3s: Top Sources at Your Store
Sunday, October 01, 2017

Lung Cancer Risks: Myths and Facts
Thursday, July 13, 2017

Guide to Kidney Cancer
Thursday, July 13, 2017

Do You Know the Benefits of Walking?
Saturday, June 17, 2017

High-Protein Diets: The Good and the Bad
May 10 ,2017

Eye Exams: More Important Than You Might Think
March 22 ,2017

Warning Signs Of Heart Attack,Stroke & Cardiac Arrest
February 27 ,2017

What to Do to Help Prevent Cancer
February 10 ,2017

15 Cancer Warning Signs Never to Ignore
December 29 ,2016

Foods to Help Your Body Fight Cancer
November 05, 2016

Florida Medicaid's State-Mandated Formulary Impact on Utilization and Cost
October 13, 2016

15 Ways to Be Happier
Sep 27, 2016

16 Tips for Pain-Free Joints
Sep 8, 2016

Screening reduces late-stage breast cancer in Calif.
Sep 8, 2016

The Life-Changing Magic of Choosing the Right Hospital
August 26, 2016

Contraceptive Coverage: Fertile Ground for Controversy
August 26, 2016

How Much Do You Know About Spreading Germs?
August 11, 2016

Taking Action on Medicare Prescriber Enrollment
June 30, 2016

Cancer doctors leading campaign to boost use of HPV vaccine
June 24, 2016

ACH Newsroom Main Page ACH Newsroom Main Page



Return to the ACH Newsroom