Virtual Histology Assessment of Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy Following Introduction of Everolimus—Results of a Multicenter Trial


  • Clinical trial registry: (unique registration number NCT00377962)

Satish Arora


In this 12-month multicenter Scandinavian study, 78 maintenance heart transplant (HTx) recipients randomized to everolimus with reduced calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) exposure or continued standard CNI-therapy underwent matched virtual histology (VH) examination to evaluate morphological progression of cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV). Parallel measurement of a range of inflammatory markers was also performed. A similar rate of quantitative CAV progression was observed in the everolimus (n = 30) and standard CNI group (n = 48) (plaque index 1.9 ± 3.8% and 1.6 ± 3.9%, respectively; p = 0.65). However, VH analysis revealed a significant increase in calcified (2.4 ± 4.0 vs. 0.3 ± 3.1%; p = 0.02) and necrotic component (6.5 ± 8.5 vs. 1.1 ± 8.6%; p = 0.01) among everolimus patients compared to controls. The increase in necrotic and calcified components was most prominent in everolimus patients with time since HTx >5.1 years and was accompanied by a significant increase in levels of von Willebrand (vWF) factor (p = 0.04) and vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM) (p = 0.03). Conversion to everolimus and reduced CNI is associated with a significant increase in calcified and necrotic intimal components and is more prominent in patients with a longer time since HTx. A significant increase in vWF and VCAM accompanied these qualitative changes and the prognostic implication of these findings requires further investigation.