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Am Heart J. 1994 Jul;128(1):68-72.

Metabolic risk factors for atherosclerosis in heart transplant recipients.

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  • 1Veterans Administration Medical Center, Stanford, Calif.


Development of coronary artery disease (CAD) in the cardiac allograft limits long-term survival after heart transplantation. Previous studies, focusing on lipoprotein metabolism, have paid little attention to changes in glucose and insulin metabolism that increase the risk of CAD in these patients. To address this issue, plasma glucose and insulin responses to an oral glucose load and lipid and lipoprotein concentrations were measured in male normal volunteers (n = 40) and cardiac transplant recipients with pretransplant diagnoses of either idiopathic cardiomyopathy (n = 24) or ischemic heart disease (n = 28), matched for age and body mass index. Patients with a pretransplant diagnosis of ischemic heart disease had higher plasma glucose and insulin concentrations in response to oral glucose as well as higher fasting plasma triglyceride, cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations than did the control group (p < 0.005 to p < 0.001). In addition, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations were lower and the ratio of cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol higher than control values in those with a pretransplant diagnosis of ischemic heart disease (p < 0.001). Values for almost all variables were intermediate in patients with a pretransplant diagnosis of idiopathic cardiomyopathy and in most instances were significantly different from both. Thus, male cardiac transplant recipients are dyslipidemic, relatively glucose intolerant, and hyperinsulinemic compared to normal volunteers. These changes, observed in patients with a pretransplant diagnosis of either ischemic heart disease or idiopathic cardiomyopathy, emphasize the important role of immunosuppression in the development of metabolic risk factors for CAD in these individuals.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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