Role of biomarkers in cardiac structure phenotyping in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction: critical appraisal and practical use

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Heart failure (HF) with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is a heterogeneous clinical syndrome characterized by cardiovascular, metabolic, and pro-inflammatory diseases associated with advanced age and extracardiac comorbidities. All of these conditions finally lead to impairment of myocardial structure and function. The large phenotypic heterogeneity of HFpEF from pathophysiological underpinnings presents a major hurdle to HFpEF therapy. The new therapeutic approach in HFpEF should be targeted to each HF phenotype, instead of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which has not been successful in clinical trials. Unless the structural and biological determinants of the failing heart are deeply understood, it will be impossible to appropriately differentiate HFpEF patients, identify subtle myocardial abnormalities, and finally reverse abnormal cardiac function. Based on evidence from endomyocardial biopsies, some of the specific cardiac structural phenotypes to be targeted in HFpEF may be represented by myocyte hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis, myocardial inflammation associated with oxidative stress, and coronary disease. Once the diagnosis of HFpEF has been established, a potential approach could be to use a panel of biomarkers to identify the main cardiac structural HFpEF phenotypes, guiding towards more appropriate therapeutic strategies. Accordingly, the purpose of this review is to investigate the potential role of biomarkers in identifying different cardiac structural HFpEF phenotypes and to discuss the merits of a biomarker-guided strategy in HFpEF.

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