BACKGROUND: It would be important to better identify heart failure (HF) patients most likely to respond to cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). Because endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a crucial role in the maintenance of vascular endothelium integrity, we hypothesize that patients who have higher circulating EPCs levels have greater neovascularization potential and are more prone to be responders to CRT.
METHODS: Prospective study of 30 consecutive patients, scheduled for CRT. Echocardiographic evaluation was performed before implant and 6 months after. Responders to CRT were defined as patients who were still alive, have not been hospitalized for HF management, and demonstrated ≥15% reduction in left ventricular end-systolic volume (LVESV) at the 6-month follow-up. EPCs were quantified before CRT, from peripheral blood, by flow cytometry using five different conjugated antibodies: anti-CD34, anti-KDR, anti-CD133, anti-CD45, and anti-CXCR4. We quantified five different populations of angiogenic cells: CD133(+) /CD34(+) cells, CD133(+) /KDR(+) cells, CD133(+) /CD34(+) /KDR(+) cells, CD45(dim) CD34(+) /KDR(+) cells, and CD45(dim) CD34(+) /KDR(+) /CXCR4(+) cells.
RESULTS: The proportion of responders to CRT at the 6-month follow-up was 46.7%. Responders to CRT presented higher baseline EPCs levels than nonresponders (0.0003 ± 0.0006% vs 0.0001 ± 0.0002%, P = 0.04, for CD34(+) /CD133(+) /KDR(+) and 0.0006 ± 0.0005% vs 0.0003 ± 0.0003%, P = 0.009, for CD45(dim) CD34(+) /KDR(+) /CXCR4(+) cells). In addition, baseline levels of CD45(dim) CD34(+) /KDR(+) /CXCR4(+) cells were positively correlated with the reduction of LVESV verified 6 months after CRT (r = 0.497, P = 0.008).
CONCLUSIONS: High circulating EPCs levels may identify the subset of HF patients who are more likely to undergo reverse remodeling and benefit from CRT. Addition of EPCs levels assessment to current selection criteria may improve the ability to predict CRT response.