Angiogenic and inflammatory biomarkers for screening and follow-up in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension

<p><b>Objective</b>: To identify circulating angiogenic and inflammatory biomarkers with potential in screening for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in systemic sclerosis (SSc), and in early diagnosis and determination of treatment response in PAH.</p> <p><b>Method</b>: Plasma samples were taken at the time of PAH diagnosis and at treatment follow-up after a median (interquartile range) of 4 months (3–9.8 months) in idiopathic (n = 9) and SSc-associated PAH (n = 11). In patients with SSc-associated PAH, plasma samples had also been gathered a median of 2 years (0.8–3 years) before PAH diagnosis (n = 10). Additional plasma samples were retrieved at two time-points separated by a median of 12 years (10–13 years) from SSc patients who did not develop PAH (n = 10) and from controls (n = 8). Angiogenic and inflammatory biomarkers were analysed by multiplex immunoassays.</p> <p><b>Results</b>: Plasma levels of placenta growth factor (PlGF), soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (sVEGFR-1), and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were higher (p < 0.05) in SSc patients who later developed PAH than in those who did not. Plasma vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-D increased (p < 0.05) in SSc patients as PAH developed. Plasma levels of PlGF, VEGF-A, VEGF-D, sVEGFR-1, interleukin-6, and TNF-α were higher (p < 0.05) in PAH than controls. There were no significant differences in circulating biomarkers between idiopathic and SSc-associated PAH. Plasma sVEGFR-1 decreased (p < 0.05) after initiating PAH-targeted treatments.</p> <p><b>Conclusions</b>: Plasma levels of PlGF, sVEGFR-1, TNF-α, and VEGF-D have potential in screening for SSc-associated PAH. Plasma sVEGFR-1 may be a biomarker of treatment response.</p>