Sparing the Prod: Providing an Alternative to Endomyocardial Biopsies With Noninvasive Surveillance After Heart Transplantation During COVID-19

Amadio J. M., Rodenas-Alesina E., Superina S., Kozuszko S., Tsang K., Simard A., ...More

CJC Open, vol.4, no.5, pp.479-487, 2022 (Scopus) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.cjco.2022.02.002
  • Journal Name: CJC Open
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, EMBASE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.479-487
  • TED University Affiliated: No


© 2022 The AuthorsBackground: The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced access to endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) rejection surveillance in heart transplant (HT) recipients. This study is the first in Canada to assess the role for noninvasive rejection surveillance in personalizing titration of immunosuppression and patient satisfaction post-HT. Methods: In this mixed-methods prospective cohort study, adult HT recipients more than 6 months from HT had their routine EMBs replaced by noninvasive rejection surveillance with gene expression profiling (GEP) and donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA) testing. Demographics, outcomes of noninvasive surveillance score, hospital admissions, patient satisfaction, and health status on the medical outcomes study 12-item short-form health survey (SF-12) were collected and analyzed, using t tests and χ2 tests. Thematic qualitative analysis was performed for open-ended responses. Results: Among 90 patients, 31 (33%) were enrolled. A total of 36 combined GEP/dd-cfDNA tests were performed; 22 (61%) had negative results for both, 10 (27%) had positive GEP/negative dd-cfDNA results, 4 (11%) had negative GEP/positive dd-cfDNA results, and 0 were positive on both. All patients with a positive dd-cfDNA result (range: 0.19%-0.81%) underwent EMB with no significant cellular or antibody-mediated rejection. A total of 15 cases (42%) had immunosuppression reduction, and this increased to 55% in patients with negative concordant testing. Overall, patients’ reported satisfaction was 90%, and on thematic analysis they were more satisfied, with less anxiety, during the noninvasive testing experience. Conclusions: Noninvasive rejection surveillance was associated with the ability to lower immunosuppression, increase satisfaction, and reduce anxiety in HT recipients, minimizing exposure for patients and providers during a global pandemic.