Elevated Serotonin and NT-proBNP Levels Predict and Detect Carcinoid Heart Disease in a Large Validation Study

Sonja Levy, Aoife B Kilgallen, Catharina M Korse, Marish I F J Oerlemans, Joost P G Sluijter, Linda W van Laake, Gerlof D Valk, Margot E T Tesselaar

Published: May-2 2022


Carcinoid heart disease (CHD) is a rare fibrotic cardiac complication of neuroendocrine tumors. Besides known biomarkers N-Terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and serotonin, activin A, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), and soluble suppression of tumorigenicity 2 (sST2) have been suggested as potential biomarkers for CHD. Here, we validated the predictive/diagnostic value of these biomarkers in a case-control study of 114 patients between 1990 and 2021. Two time-points were analyzed: T0: liver metastasis without CHD for all patients. T1: confirmed CHD in cases (CHD+, n = 57); confirmed absence of CHD five or more years after liver metastasis in controls (CHD–, n = 57). Thirty-one (54%) and 25 (44%) females were included in CHD+ and CHD– patients, respectively. Median age was 57.9 years for CHD+ and 59.7 for CHD- patients (p = 0.290). At T0: activin A was similar across both groups (p = 0.724); NT-proBNP was higher in CHD+ patients (17 vs. 6 pmol/L, p = 0.016), area under the curve (AUC) 0.84, and the most optimal cut-off at 6.5 pmol/L. At T1: activin A was higher in CHD+ patients (0.65 vs. 0.38 ng/mL, p = 0.045), AUC 0.62, without an optimal cut-off value. NT-pro-BNP was higher in CHD+ patients (63 vs. 11 pmol/L, p < 0.001), AUC 0.89, with an optimal cut-off of 27 pmol/L. Serotonin (p = 0.345), sST2 (p = 0.867) and CTGF (p = 0.232) levels were similar across groups. This large validation study identified NT-proBNP as the superior biomarker for CHD. Patients with elevated serotonin levels and NT-proBNP levels between 6.5 and 27 pmol/L, and specifically >27 pmol/L, should be monitored closely for the development of CHD.

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