Elevated Angiopoietin-2 Level in Patients With Continuous-Flow Left Ventricular Assist Devices Leads to Altered Angiogenesis and Is Associated With Higher Non-Surgical Bleeding
Background—Non-surgical bleeding (NSB) is the most common adverse event in patients with continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) and is caused by arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). We hypothesized that deregulation of an angiogenic factor, Angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2), in LVAD patients leads to increased angiogenesis and higher NSB.
Methods—Ang-2 and thrombin levels were measured by ELISA and Western blotting, respectively, in blood samples from 101 patients with heart failure (HF), LVAD, or orthotopic heart transplant (OHT). Ang-2 expression in endothelial biopsy was quantified by immunofluorescence. Angiogenesis was determined by in vitro tube formation using serum from each patient with or without Ang-2-blocking antibody. Ang-2 gene expression was measured by RT-PCR in endothelial cells incubated with plasma from each patient with or without the thrombin receptor blocker Vorapaxar.
Results—Compared with HF or OHT patients, serum levels and endothelial expression of Ang-2 were higher in LVAD patients (p=0.001 and p<0.001, respectively). This corresponded with increased angiogenic potential of serum from patients with LVADs (p<0.001), which was normalized with Ang-2 blockade. Furthermore, plasma from LVAD patients contained higher amounts of thrombin (p=0.003) which was associated with activation of the contact coagulation system. Plasma from LVAD patients induced more Ang-2 gene expression in endothelial cells (p<0.001) which was reduced with thrombin receptor blockade (p=0.013). LVAD patients with Ang-2 levels above the mean (12.32 ng/mL) had more NSB events compared with patients with Ang-2 levels below the mean (p=0.003).
Conclusions—Our findings indicate that thrombin-induced Ang-2 expression in LVAD patients leads to increased angiogenesis in vitro and may be associated with higher NSB events. Ang-2 therefore may contribute to AVM formation and subsequent bleeding in LVAD patients.
- non-surgical bleeding
- left ventricular assist device
- cardiac transplant
- Received September 29, 2015.
- Revision received May 10, 2016.
- Accepted May 18, 2016.