Combined Heart and Liver Transplant Attenuates Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy Compared with Isolated Heart Transplantation

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We evaluated whether combined heart and liver transplant (H+LTx) can protect the heart graft from the development of cardiac allograft vasculopathy using coronary three-dimensional (3D) volumetric intravascular ultrasound (IVUS).


From 2004 to 2009, we identified 24 isolated heart transplant (HTx) and 10 H+LTx recipients in whom two coronary 3D IVUS studies were performed 1 year apart. Baseline 3D IVUS was performed at 0.22 (0.17–1.16) years after transplantation, with follow-up 3D IVUS exams performed after baseline exam (0.96 [0.83–1.08]).


Rate of plaque volume and plaque index (plaque volume/vessel volume) progression was attenuated in the H+LTx group (0.3±1.1 vs. 1.5±2.9 mm3/mm; P=0.08 and 0.01±0.03 vs. 0.1±0.1; P=0.004, respectively). Rejection burden was much lower in the H+LTx patients. Outcome analysis in 66 consecutive patients (56 HTx and 10 H+LTx) was performed irrespective of performance of second coronary IVUS. H+LTx was associated with reduced rate of cardiac events (P=0.04), which remained significant when adjusted for the difference in the primary etiology for heart disease (P=0.05).


Our preliminary serial 3D coronary IVUS data show that H+LTx attenuates cardiac allograft vasculopathy by decreasing the rate of plaque volume and plaque index progression and improves coronary-related outcomes. Because of the small numbers and the differences in etiology of heart disease, our data should be interpreted cautiously, and larger clinical trials would be required to recommend H+LTx for improved coronary remodeling.

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