Tissue plasminogen activator, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, and fibrin as indexes of clinical course in cardiac allograft recipients. An immunocytochemical study.
BACKGROUND Tissue-type plasminogen activator (TPA) is the principal activator of plasminogen. Since hemostasis in the microcirculation of allografts is a well-recognized complication of transplantation, we asked (1) whether the distribution and amount of cellular TPA in biopsies of transplanted human hearts are associated with fibrin deposits in and around the microcirculation, (2) whether such changes involve the physiological inhibitors of TPA and plasmin, and (3) whether the presence of these activators and inhibitors of fibrinolysis in tissue is correlated with clinical outcome.
METHODS AND RESULTS We immunocytochemically quantified the presence of fibrin, plasmin, TPA, and the TPA inhibitor PAI-1 in 938 biopsies from 68 consecutive cardiac allografts over a 54-month period. The localization, distribution, and quantification of TPA in arteriolar smooth muscle cells revealed that 35 of the 68 allografts maintained vascular TPA reactivity consistent with time-zero biopsies of autologous donor hearts: this was designated as the normal TPA group. In contrast, 33 of the 68 allografts significantly lost vascular TPA reactivity compared with time-zero biopsies of autologous donor hearts: this was designated as the depleted TPA group. Analysis of sequential biopsies from both groups during 54 months revealed that the mean cumulative quantitative TPA value for the normal TPA group was 1.0 +/- 0.01, whereas the depleted TPA group value was 1.9 +/- 0.02 (P = .0001), and the mean cumulative quantitative fibrin value for the normal TPA group was 1.0 +/- 0.01, whereas the depleted TPA group value was 1.5 +/- 0.05 (P = .0001). Biopsies of allografts in the depleted TPA group contained endothelial reactivity for TPA-PAI-1 complexes, whereas biopsies from the normal TPA group did not. Plasmin-associated molecules were rarely identified in biopsies of the normal TPA group but were present in the depleted TPA group, and the fibrin-to-plasmin ratio in the normal TPA group always was less than the fibrin-to-plasmin ratio in biopsies from the depleted TPA group. Analysis of demographic and risk factors revealed no significant differences between patients in the normal and depleted TPA groups, but none of the 35 patients in the normal TPA group died or were retransplanted, and 13 of the 33 patients in the depleted TPA group died or required retransplantation (P = .0001).
CONCLUSIONS Time-zero hearts (n = 68) and 34 of 38 stable allografts contained immunocytochemically detectable TPA only in vascular smooth muscle cells. Twenty-nine of 30 patients with normal TPA in their time-zero biopsies who subsequently developed a poor clinical outcome were found to have depleted TPA in biopsies evaluated during their first postoperative month and remained depleted throughout the study. Of 33 patients with depleted TPA, 39% died or required retransplantation. Depleted arteriolar TPA associated significantly with vascular and interstitial deposits of fibrin, plasmin, and endothelial TPA-PAI-1 complexes. These findings indicate that hemostatic and fibrinolytic pathways are activated in falling allografts, and they reveal evidence of depleted TPA before clinical or histopathological signs of failure. Patients with such allografts were found to be at high risk of death independently of other widely used clinical/laboratory parameters of prediction.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association