, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 318-326
Date: 14 Jan 2008

Usefulness of myocardial performance index and biochemical markers for early detection of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity in adults

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Anthracycline therapy is limited by cardiotoxicity. Currently no diagnostic parameter is available allowing ubiquitous and reliable detection of preclinical anthracycline cardiomyopathy and prediction of prognosis.

Patients and methods

In 100 consecutive patients receiving anthracycline-based chemotherapy serial measurements of left ventricular systolic and diastolic function, Tei index (a Doppler echocardiographic parameter of global ventricular function), cardiac troponin T (cTnT) and NT-probrain natriuretic peptides (BNP) at baseline and during 1-year follow-up were performed.


Mean ejection fraction (LVEF) significantly decreased immediately after completion of anthracycline therapy (mean dose 226.1 ± 8.3 mg/m2) und further declined during follow-up (65.9 ± 0.6% Vs. 61.6 ± 0.7%; P < 0.001), while mean E/A ratio decreased after 6 months (P = 0.05). No patient presented with cardiac symptoms. The Tei index increased after therapy in the majority of patients (78.8%) compared with pre-therapy values indicating myocardial alteration in more patients than previously recognized. cTnT levels did not exceed the upper limit of the normal range in any patient. Seven patients had low-level elevations of cTnT. Only one of these patients developed a concomitant decrease in LVEF. Mean N-terminal-pro-BNP (NT-proBNP) levels did not significantly change after anthracycline administration. However, in 13 patients (15.3%) a marked, transient increase of NT-proBNP was obtained after the first anthracycline cycle without cardiac dysfunction presumably due to altered cardiac loading conditions during chemotherapy.


Low to moderate doses of anthracyclines resulted in subclinical myocardial alteration in more patients than so far noticed. Clinical implications of increased Tei index remain to be determined in long-term. Our results do not support that assessment of cTnT or BNP levels may safely replace serial echocardiographic evaluation of systolic and diastolic function for the monitoring of anthracycline cardiotoxicity.