BACKGROUND. Significant changes in coronary artery structure, including intimal thickening and vessel remodeling, occur early after cardiac transplantation. The degree to which these changes compromise coronary lumen dimensions, and the clinical factors that affect these changes, remain controversial. METHODS. Thirty-eight adult cardiac transplant recipients underwent coronary angiography and volumetric intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) evaluation of the left anterior descending artery within 8 weeks of transplantation and at 1 year. Clinical parameters including donor and recipient characteristics, rejection episodes, and serology were prospectively recorded. Two-dimensional IVUS measurements and vessel, lumen and plaque volume were calculated at both time points and compared. Multivariate regression analysis was performed to reveal clinical predictors of change in coronary dimensions. RESULTS. During the first year after transplantation, significant decreases in vessel size (negative remodeling) and lumen size were observed with significant increases in plaque burden based on IVUS analyses. Loss of lumen volume correlated significantly with the degree of negative remodeling (R=0.82, P<0.0001), but not with changes in plaque burden (R=0.08, P=0.64). Patients with the greatest increase in plaque volume had significantly less negative remodeling (R=0.53, P=0.0006). Transplant recipient cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody seropositivity and lack of aggressive prophylaxis against CMV infection/reactivation were significant independent predictors of greater negative remodeling (P<0.01 and P=0.03, respectively) and greater lumen loss (P=0.02 and P=0.03, respectively). CONCLUSION. Negative remodeling is primarily responsible for coronary artery lumen loss during the first year after cardiac transplantation. CMV seropositivity and lack of aggressive CMV prophylaxis correlate with increased negative remodeling, resulting in greater lumen loss.
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