Functional and neurochemical evidence for partial cardiac sympathetic reinnervation after cardiac transplantation in humans.
BACKGROUND The presence of cardiac reinnervation in humans after cardiac transplantation has been widely debated, based on the application of differing methods for the assessment of neuronal function. Some of these techniques have been rather indirect; consequently, the time course and extent of cardiac reinnervation remains uncertain.
METHODS AND RESULTS To test for the presence of cardiac reinnervation after transplantation, we examined neurochemical (radiolabeled norepinephrine [NE] kinetics) and functional markers (power spectral analysis, heart rate response to exercise) of cardiac sympathetic nerve integrity in 15 cardiac transplantation recipients and 25 healthy control subjects of similar age. Cardiac transplantation subjects were studied 9 weeks to 8 years after cardiac transplantation (10 "early" patients < 18 months and 5 "late" patients > 2 years after cardiac transplantation). At rest, cardiac NE spillover was markedly attenuated early after transplantation (11.2 +/- 18.3 pmol/min) compared with subjects late after transplantation (105 +/- 11 pmol/min, P < .01) or in healthy control subjects (103 +/- 15 pmol/min, P < .01). Heart rate variability (measured by total spectral power) was significantly reduced in cardiac transplantation recipients compared with control subjects (59.4 +/- 30 vs 1673 +/- 516 milliseconds squared; P < .05), with evidence of a trend toward increasing spectral power late after transplantation. During exercise, the cardiac NE spillover was significantly lower in early cardiac transplantation recipients when compared with control subjects (163 +/- 50 vs 1876 +/- 418 pmol/min, P < .01). Late cardiac transplantation subjects showed a response intermediate (1080 +/- 254 pmol/min) between that of the early cardiac transplantation and control groups. However, measurements of the neuronal reuptake process for NE (assessed by the fractional extraction of plasma labeled NE across the heart and tritiated dihydroxyphenylglycol release) were significantly depressed in both early and late cardiac transplantation subjects.
CONCLUSIONS The present study demonstrates a partial restoration of cardiac sympathetic nerve function in humans up to 8 years after heart transplantation.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association