Accelerated arteriosclerosis is now the major long-term complication of heart transplantation. Defining the risk factors associated with the development of accelerated arteriosclerosis will provide not only a means of identifying patients at risk for this complication but also clues to the etiology of accelerated arteriosclerosis. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between peritransplant myocardial ischemic injury and the development of accelerated arteriosclerosis. In a case-control study we examined the first three endomyocardial biopsies from 50 heart transplant recipients and graded the degree of ischemic injury present in these biopsies. The histologic changes graded in the biopsies included contraction band necrosis, coagulative necrosis, and macrophagic removal of ischemically injured myocytes. Of the 50 recipients included in the study, 25 had angiographic evidence of accelerated arteriosclerosis and 25 did not. In multivariate analysis, which included the number of class I major histocompatibility (MHC) antigen mismatches between the donor and the recipient, the recipient's posttransplant cytomegalovirus status, the donor's age, and the number of rejection episodes, the histologic degree of ischemic injury present in the biopsies emerged as the strongest predictor of the development of accelerated arteriosclerosis (RR 2.6, 95% CI 1.2-5.8, p = 0.02). These results suggest that ischemic injury to the heart during the peritransplant period significantly contributes to the development of accelerated arteriosclerosis in heart transplant recipients and that histologic changes in early posttransplant biopsies can be used to identify recipients at risk of developing accelerated arteriosclerosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine