Impact of sirolimus as a primary immunosuppressant on myocardial fibrosis and diastolic function following heart transplantation

Hilmi Alnsasra, Rabea Asleh, Jae K. Oh, Joseph J. Maleszewski, Amir Lerman, Takumi Toya, Krishnaswamy Chandrasekaran, Melanie C. Bois, Sudhir S. Kushwaha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Myocardial fibrosis is an important contributor for development of diastolic dysfunction. We investigated the impact of sirolimus as primary immunosuppression on diastolic dysfunction and fibrosis progression among heart transplantation recipients. METHODS AND RESULTS: In 100 heart transplantation recipients who were either treated with a calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) (n=51) or converted from CNI to sirolimus (n=49), diastolic function parameters were assessed using serial echocardiograms and right heart catheterizations. Myocardial fibrosis was quantified on serial myocardial biopsies. After 3 years, lateral e’ increased within the sirolimus group but decreased in the CNI group (0.02±0.04 versus -0.02±0.04 m/s delta change; P=0.003, respectively). Both pulmonary capillary wedge pressure and diastolic pulmonary artery pressure significantly decreased in the sirolimus group but remained unchanged in the CNI group (-1.50±2.59 versus 0.20±2.20 mm Hg/year; P=0.02; and -1.72±3.39 versus 0.82±2.59 mm Hg/year; P=0.005, respectively). A trend for increased percentage of fibrosis was seen in the sirolimus group (8.48±3.17 to 10.10±3.0%; P=0.07) as compared with marginally significant progression in the CNI group (8.76±3.87 to 10.56±4.34%; P=0.04). The percent change in fibrosis did not differ significantly between the groups (1.62±4.67 versus 1.80±5.31%, respectively; P=0.88). CONCLUSIONS: Early conversion to sirolimus is associated with improvement in diastolic dysfunction and filling pressures as compared with CNI therapy. Whether this could be attributed to attenuation of myocardial fibrosis progression with sirolimus treatment warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere018186
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2021


  • Diastolic dysfunction
  • Myocardial fibrosis
  • Sirolimus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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