Kanwischer L, Xu X, Saifuddin AB, Maamari S, Tan X, Alnour F, Tampe B, Meyer T, Zeisberg M, Hasenfuss G, Puls M, Zeisberg EM
Clin Epigenetics. 2023 Sep 11;15(1):149.
Background: Aortic stenosis (AS) is one of the most common cardiac diseases and major cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is performed in such patients with symptomatic severe AS and reduces mortality for the majority of these patients. However, a significant percentage dies within the first two years after TAVI, such that there is an interest to identify parameters, which predict outcome and could guide pre-TAVI patient selection. High levels of cardiac fibrosis have been identified as such independent predictor of cardiovascular mortality after TAVI. Promoter hypermethylation commonly leads to gene downregulation, and the Iroquois homeobox 3 (IRX3) gene was identified in a genome-wide transcriptome and methylome to be hypermethylated and downregulated in AS patients. In a well-described cohort of 100 TAVI patients in which cardiac fibrosis levels were quantified histologically in cardiac biopsies, and which had a follow-up of up to two years, we investigated if circulating methylated DNA of IRX3 in the peripheral blood is associated with cardiac fibrosis and/or mortality in AS patients undergoing TAVI and thus could serve as a biomarker to add information on outcome after TAVI.
Results: Patients with high levels of methylation in circulating IRX3 show a significantly increased survival as compared to patients with low levels of IRX3 methylation indicating that high peripheral IRX3 methylation is associated with an improved outcome. In the multivariable setting, peripheral IRX3 methylation acts as an independent predictor of all-cause mortality. While there is no significant correlation of levels of IRX3 methylation with cardiac death, there is a significant but very weak inverse correlation between circulating IRX3 promoter methylation level and the amount of cardiac fibrosis. Higher levels of peripheral IRX3 methylation further correlated with decreased cardiac IRX3 expression and vice versa.
Conclusions: High levels of IRX3 methylation in the blood of AS patients at the time of TAVI are associated with better overall survival after TAVI and at least partially reflect myocardial IRX3 expression. Circulating methylated IRX3 might aid as a potential biomarker to help guide both pre-TAVI patient selection and post-TAVI monitoring.