Multi-biomarker Risk Score Predicts Complex Revascularization

Patrice Wendling

August 24, 2022

A multi-biomarker risk score helps predict increased risk for future cardiovascular (CV) events as well as high-risk anatomy at revascularization in stable patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), a new FOURIER trial analysis suggests.

The risk score incorporates high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), high-sensitivity troponin I (hsTnI), and growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15).

These routine biomarkers of inflammation and fibrosis, ventricular strain, and myocardial injury are individually associated with incident CV in stable ASCVD and were shown in earlier work to be a multi-marker score to predict CV events in patients stabilized after an acute coronary syndrome in the IMPROVE-IT trial.

Validating the score, however, wasn't really the intent here, explained senior author Brian Bergmark, MD, with the TIMI Study Group, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston.

"We know broadly speaking people with high troponin, BNP, et cetera, are going to have broadly defined clinical events like Mis [myocardial infarctions], death. And we also know on a granular level at a single time point that people who, for example, get a coronary CT scan and have a contemporary troponin level tend to have a little bit more coronary disease," he said.

"But that leaves this broad swath of, what if we follow people over time? Can biomarkers in some form actually predict specific coronary anatomical characteristics and revascularization procedures in conjunction with clinical events?" Bergmark continued. "That's sort of an untouched link or translational step between some of the granular data and these clinical events."

As published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the post hoc study analyzed baseline blood samples from 21,644 FOURIER participants and adapted the previously studied multi-marker score to use hsTnI in place of high-sensitivity troponin T (hsTnT). One point was assigned for each elevated biomarker: hsCRP ≥ 2 mg/L, NT-proBNP ≥ 450 pg/mL, hsTnI ≥ 6 ng/L, and GDF-15 ≥ 1800 pg/mL.

A total of 6444 patients had a low score (0 points), 12,439 an intermediate score (1-2 points), and 2761 a high score (3-4 points). Patients with higher biomarker scores were older and were more likely to have hypertension, diabetes, multiple prior MIs, heart failure, prior coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), and peripheral artery disease but were less likely to have prior percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

Results showed a stepwise increase in 3-year risk for major coronary events (coronary death, MI, or coronary revascularization) from 7.3% with a low score to 11.3% with an intermediate score and 21.0% with a high score. A near tripling of risk remained in those with a high score after adjustment (hazard ratio [HR], 2.90).

Individuals with a high score had twice the risk for any coronary revascularization (HR, 2.10) and complex revascularization (HR, 2.07), as well as increased risks for complex PCI (HR, 1.80), CABG (HR, 2.57), and in-stent restenosis (ISR) revascularization (HR, 1.78).

The study is the first to show an association of these biomarkers with future ISR revascularization in a broad cohort of patients with stable ASCVD, the investigators observe.

It could be a random signal, but "it's one piece of data as people start to look at other datasets, as we start to understand who's at risk for ISR, as we understand this disease entity that's really a pandemic at this point," Bergmark said, "I think this is one piece of the puzzle that's novel."

Compared with those with a low score, patients with a high biomarker score had significantly higher risks for left main disease greater than 50% (HR, 2.22; P = .003), multivessel disease (HR, 1.99; P < .001), and chronic total occlusion (HR, 2.50; P < .001) at the time of revascularization.

There was no significant interaction between the biomarker score and the effect of evolocumab used in the trial; however, the assessment had limited statistical power, the authors note.

Bergmark said that the results can inform trial design to select a population at risk for specific types of events and when trying to risk adjust in a population for reimbursement purposes to understand quality metrics, for example, for people coming back with ISR.

"I think refining risk estimates has broad applicability clinically and academically," he added. "This is one step, with one dataset, pushing these typically broad clinical endpoints to be more specific."

In an related editorial, Giles Montalescot, MD, PhD, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France, and colleagues write, "Not only does this study validate the multi-biomarker score in a new cohort of patients and with new coronary-focused outcomes, but it also opens novel and interesting avenues, on a global approach of cardiovascular risk."

Possibilities include using this or another multi-biomarker risk score to streamline enrichment or selection criteria for a trial or as a surrogate endpoint in proof-of-concept trials to test a new drug aimed at reducing CV risk.

"Beyond clinical research, we could imagine in the future to base our therapeutic decisions on such a score, just like we decide anticoagulation in patients with atrial fibrillation according to the CHA₂DS₂-VASc score," the editorialists say.

This being said, Montalescot and colleagues point out that the current multi-biomarker risk score assigned equal prognostic value to each of the components, whereas IMPROVE-IT and FOURIER both showed that elevated hsTnT and NT-proBNP were associated with much higher hazard ratios than hsCRP and GDF-15.

Other limitations, they say, are that the categorical nature of the variables, albeit user friendly, prevent any subtle analysis; the score does not include biological risk factors; and questions remain about the impact of the lipid-lowering intervention across risk categories.

FOURIER was funded by Amgen. The TIMI Study Group has received institutional grant support through Brigham and Women's Hospital from Abbott, Amgen, Anthos Therapeutics, AstraZeneca, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi-Sankyo, Eisai, Intarcia, MedImmune, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Quark Pharmaceuticals, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Roche, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, The Medicines Company, and Zora Biosciences. Bergmark reports grant support from Pfizer, Ionis, AstraZeneca, and Abbott Vascular; and consulting fees from Philips, Abbott Vascular, Servier, Daiichi-Sankyo, Janssen, and Quark Pharmaceuticals. Montalescot reports research grants to his institution or consulting/lecture fees from Abbott, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Boston Scientific, Bristol Myers Squibb, Cell Prothera, CSL Behring, Europa, Idorsia, IRIS-Servier, Medtronic, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Quantum Genomics, and Sanofi-Aventis.

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2022;80:887-897, 898-901. Abstract; Editorial

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