Background. Cardiac troponin I and T (cTnI and cTnT) are sensitive and specific markers of myocardial damage. We evaluated them for the selection of heart donors and as predictors of early graft failure after heart transplantation. Methods. cTnI, cTnT, myoglobin, and creatine kinase (CK) levels and its isoenzyme MB (CKMB) activity and mass were measured in serum samples immediately before opening the pericardium from 126 consecutive brain-dead multi-organ donors over 10 years of age inspected by our harvesting team. Donors with serum creatinine >2.0 mg/dL (n=6) were excluded from the analysis. Donors for high-urgency status recipients (n=2) were also excluded. The remaining donors were retrospectively divided into three groups: group I (n=68), grafts with good function; group II (n=11), grafts with impaired function; and group III (n=39), grafts not accepted for transplantation. Results. No differences in donor and recipient characteristics were found among the groups. The mean values of cTnI (0.36±0.88 μg/L, 4.45±3.28 μg/L, and 3.02±7.88 μg/L, respectively) and cTnT (0.016±0.029 μg/L, 0.134±0.114 μg/L, and 0.123±0.245 μg/L, respectively) were lower in group I when compared with groups II or III (cTnI: P<0.0001, P=0.018; cTnT: P<0.0001, P=0.012). The cTnI value was higher in group II compared with group III (P=0.023). The cTnT values were similar in groups II and III. A cTnI value >1.6 μg/L as a predictor of early graft failure had a specificity of 94%, and a cTnT value of >0.1 μg/L had a specificity of 99%. The odds ratio for the development of acute graft failure after heart transplantation was 42.7 for donors with cTnI > 1.6 μg/L and 56.9 for donors with cTnT >0.1 μg/L. No differences of myoglobin, CKMB activity, or CKMB/CK ratio were found among the groups. Conclusions. Significantly higher cTnI and cTnT values were found in peripheral blood at the time of explantation in donors of hearts with subsequently impaired graft function and in not accepted donors, cTnI and cTnT are useful as additional parameters for heart donor selection.
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