RATIONALE - Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal disease, and pulmonary microvascular remodeling is an important contributor to PAH development. Therefore, we hypothesized that a circulating angiogenic factor could predict disease severity and survival.
OBJECTIVES - We sought to assess the relationship of serum hepatoma-derived growth factor (HDGF) with PAH disease severity and survival.
METHODS - Using a newly developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, we evaluated circulating HDGF levels in two independent PAH cohorts and two different characterized control cohorts. Clinical and laboratory data were also used to assess the value of HDGF as a PAH prognostic biomarker.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS - Serum HDGF levels were significantly elevated in two independent PAH cohorts. Importantly, serum HDGF levels were not elevated in a noncardiac chronic disease cohort. Further, patients with elevated HDGF had significantly lower exercise tolerance, worse New York Heart Association functional class, and higher levels of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide. HDGF was a strong predictor of mortality, with an unadjusted hazard ratio of 4.5 (95% confidence interval, 1.9-10.3; P = 0.003 by log-rank test). In multivariable Cox proportional hazards models, elevated HDGF levels predicted decreased survival after being adjusted for age, PAH subtype, invasive hemodynamics, and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide.
CONCLUSIONS - Elevated HDGF was associated with worse functional class, exertional intolerance, and increased mortality in PAH, suggesting HDGF as a potential biomarker for predicting mortality and as having possible diagnostic value for distinguishing PAH from non-PAH. HDGF may add additional value in PAH risk stratification in clinical trials and may represent a potential target for future PAH drug development.