GDF-15 (Growth Differentiation Factor 15) Is Associated With Hospitalization and Mortality in Patients With a Fontan Circulation


Meyer SL, Wolff D, Ridderbos FS, Eshuis G, Hillege H, Willems TP, Ebels T, van Melle JP, Berger RMF.J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 May 18;9(10):e015521. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.015521. Epub 2020 May 8.PMID: 32384007



Background We investigated serial serum levels of GDF-15 (growth differentiation factor 15) in Fontan patients and their relation to outcome. Methods and Results In this single-center prospective study of consecutive Fontan patients, serial serum GDF-15 measurement and clinical assessment was done at baseline (n=81) and after 2 years (n=51). The association between GDF-15 and the combined end point of all-cause mortality, heart transplant listing, and Fontan-related hospitalization was investigated. Median age at baseline was 21 years (interquartile range: 15-28 years). Median GDF-15 serum levels at baseline were 552 pg/mL (interquartile range: 453-729 pg/mL). GDF-15 serum levels correlated positively with age, age at Fontan initiation, New York Heart Association class, and serum levels of NT-proBNP (N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide) and ɣGT (γ-glutamyltransferase) and negatively with exercise capacity. During a median follow-up of 4.8 years (interquartile range: 3.3-5.5 years), the combined end point occurred in 30 patients (37%). Multivariate Cox regression showed that patients with the highest baseline GDF-15 (n=20, defined as the upper quartile) had a higher risk of hospitalization or death than the lowest 3 quartiles (hazard ratio [HR], 2.76; 95% CI, 1.27-6.00; P=0.011). After 2 years of follow-up, patients in whom serum level of GDF-15 increased to >70 pg/mL (n=13) had a higher risk of hospitalization or death than the lowest 3 quartiles (HR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.03-6.99; P=0.043). Conclusions In Fontan patients, elevated serum levels of GDF-15 are associated with worse functional status and predict Fontan-related events. Furthermore, serial measurements showed that an increase in GDF-15 serum level was associated with increased risk for adverse outcome.