Author(s): Lauer B, Niederau C, Khl U, Schannwell M, Pauschinger M,
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: The present study investigated whether myocyte injury can be assessed sensitively by measurement of serum levels of cardiac troponin T (cTnT) in patients with clinically suspected myocarditis and whether cTnT levels may predict the results of histologic and immunohistologic analysis of endomyocardial biopsy specimens. BACKGROUND: Conventionally used laboratory variables often fail to show myocyte injury in patients with clinically suspected myocarditis, possibly because of a low extent of myocardial injury in these patients. Sensitive variables for myocyte injury have not yet been investigated. METHODS: Eighty patients with clinically suspected myocarditis were screened for creatine kinase (CK) activity, MB isoform of CK (CK-MB) activity and cTnT. Endomyocardial biopsy specimens were examined histologically and immunohistologically. RESULTS: cTnT was elevated in 28 of 80 patients with clinically suspected myocarditis, CK in 4 and CK-MB in 1. Histologic analysis alone of the endomyocardial biopsy specimen revealed evidence of myocarditis in only five patients, all with elevated cTnT levels. Twenty-three of 28 patients with elevated cTnT levels had histologically negative findings for myocarditis. Additional immunohistologic analysis revealed evidence of myocarditis in 26 (93\%) of 28 patients with elevated cTnT levels and in 23 (44\%) of 52 patients with normal cTnT levels. Mean cTnT levels were higher in patients with myocarditis proved histologically or immunohistologically, or both, than in patients without myocarditis (0.59 +/- 1.68 vs. 0.04 +/- 0.05, p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Measurement of serum levels of cTnT provides evidence of myocyte injury in patients with clinically suspected myocarditis more sensitively than does conventional determination of cardiac enzyme levels. Myocardial cell damage may be present even in the absence of histologic signs of myocarditis. Additional immunohistologic analysis often shows lymphocytic infiltrates in these patients. Elevated levels of cTnT are highly predictive for myocarditis in this group.
This article was published in J Am Coll Cardiol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Case Reports