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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2019 Aug;38(8):820-829. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2019.05.008. Epub 2019 May 24.

Gene expression profiling and racial disparities in outcomes after heart transplantation.

Author information

1
Section of Heart Failure, Cardiac Transplant, and Mechanical Circulatory Support, and Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California; Ted Rogers Centre of Excellence for Heart Research, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2
Ted Rogers Centre of Excellence for Heart Research, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
3
Section of Heart Failure, Cardiac Transplant, and Mechanical Circulatory Support, and Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
4
CareDx, Brisbane, California.
5
Division of Nephrology, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, Ireland.
6
West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
7
Center for Advanced Heart and Lung Disease, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.
8
Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City, New York.
9
Section of Heart Failure, Cardiac Transplant, and Mechanical Circulatory Support, and Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California. Electronic address: jeff.teuteberg@stanford.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

African Americans (AAs) have lower survival rates after heart transplantation (HTx) than Caucasians. The aim of this analysis was to evaluate racial differences in gene expression and their associations with survival and the composite outcome of death, retransplant, rejection with hemodynamic compromise, and graft dysfunction in the Outcomes AlloMap Registry.

METHODS:

Registry participants included low-risk Caucasian and AA heart transplant recipients with a baseline and at least 1 follow-up gene expression test (AlloMap(C)) within the first year after HTx. The Kaplan-Meier method with delayed entry was used to describe differences in outcomes. Multivariable Cox hazard regression was used to evaluate the associations of overall gene expression profiling score, MARCH8 and FLT3 expression, and tacrolimus levels with each outcome, and stratified Cox models were developed to quantify race-specific associations.

RESULTS:

Among 933 eligible recipients, 737 (79%) were Caucasian and 196 (21%) were AA. Compared with Caucasians, AAs were significantly younger (55 vs 59 years, p < 0.001), with higher rates of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy (68% vs 50%, p < 0.001), sensitization (>10% panel reactive antibody, 16% vs 9.1%, p = 0.009), and human leukocyte antigen mismatches (7 vs 7, p = 0.01), but less frequent primary cytomegalovirus serostatus mismatch (14.31% vs 27.3%, p < 0.001). Overall, AAs had an increased adjusted mortality risk (hazard ratio [HR] 4.13, p = 0.007). Higher tacrolimus levels were associated with decreased mortality in AAs (HR 0.62, p = 0.009). Overall gene expression profiling score was associated with increased mortality among Caucasians (HR 1.21, p = 0.048). In Caucasians, but not AAs, overexpression of MARCH8 was associated with increased mortality (HR 2.90, p = 0.001). FLT3 upregulation was associated with increased mortality (HR 2.42, p = 0.033) in AAs. There was an inverse relationship between FLT3 expression and tacrolimus levels (-0.029 and -0.176, respectively) in Caucasians and AAs.

CONCLUSIONS:

AAs have a significantly higher mortality risk after HTx than Caucasians, even in the low-risk Outcomes AlloMap Registry population. AAs and Caucasians had differential outcomes based upon the varying expression of MARCH8 and FLT3 genes following HTx.

KEYWORDS:

gene expression profiling; graft failure; heart transplantation; race/ethnicity; survival

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