Heart transplantation (HT) remains the treatment of choice for patients with end-stage heart failure. Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV), a diffuse form of coronary atherosclerosis, is the major cause of death after the first year of HT. CAV is thought to be multifactorial in origin. Although nonimmune factors may play a role in CAV development, it is primarily an immune-mediated disease. CAV is diagnosed by routine annual coronary angiography, and usually when diagnosed, the disease is advanced. There is a need to develop noninvasive surrogate markers for early detection. For this purpose, careful immune monitoring and graft histologic assessment are mandatory. The main objective of this study was the assessment of immunologic markers as mediators of CAV development in HT. Flow cytometry was performed to assess peripheral blood mononuclear cell populations forming CD3, CD4, CD8, CD19, CD56, Th1 (CD3+IFNγ+) or Treg (CD4+CD25 highFoxP3+) markers among 20 de novo HT recipients. The control group included 13 patients who were more than 2 years post-HT (four with and nine without CAV) as well as 20 healthy subjects. CAV-related events over 2 years' follow-up correlated with the Th1/Treg ratio. An increased Th1 lymphocyte percentage was detected over the follow-up. Patients with medium and high Th1/Treg ratios showed higher acute rejection scores as well as greater incidences of CAV. These results indicated that the Th1/Treg ratio may represent a valuable marker to monitor allospecific T-cell responses in peripheral blood. Changes in the Th1/Treg ratio may help in the early detection of patients at risk for CAV. More studies with longer follow-up are needed to confirm these preliminary results. © 2011 by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2011|