Paediatric heart failure-understanding the pathophysiology and the current role of cardiac biomarkers in clinical practice

Claire McGinn, Frank Casey, Chris Watson, Louise Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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INTRODUCTION: Paediatric heart failure is a common clinical syndrome that may be experienced by children with congenital heart disease (CHD) and/or cardiomyopathy. It is characterised by clinical signs/symptoms which reflect the underlying pathophysiology based on one of three main clinical states: Pulmonary over-circulation, pressure overload, and ventricular failure. Current diagnosis relies on clinical assessment and echocardiogram imaging as cardiac biomarkers has been predominantly scientific to date. This review provides a comprehensive overview of paediatric heart failure pathophysiology and considers the available evidence for cardiac biomarkers in this setting.

METHODS: A literature review was completed using MEDLINE ALL, EMBASE, and PubMed on 10th November, 2022. Search terms included biomarkers, heart failure, heart defects, congenital heart disease, fontan circulation, single ventricle circulation, cardiomyopathy, and child. This allowed the identification of individual cardiac biomarkers which are the focus of this review. These included NT-proBNP, MR-proANP, MR-proADM, troponin, sST2, galectin 3, and growth differentiation factor-15.

RESULTS: Paediatric studies have established reference ranges for NT-proBNP and troponin for children with structurally normal hearts. Of all the biomarkers reviewed, NT-proBNP appears to correlate most closely with symptoms of heart failure and ventricular dysfunction on echocardiogram. However, there remains limited longitudinal data for NT-proBNP, and no validated reference ranges for patients with CHD and/or cardiomyopathy. None of the other biomarkers reviewed were consistently superior to NT-proBNP.

CONCLUSION: Further large paediatric studies of patients with heart failure are needed to validate NT-proBNP in CHD and to evaluate the role of novel biomarkers in specific types of CHD, e.g. single ventricle physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages24
JournalCardiology in the Young
Issue number4
Early online date23 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 23 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr Claire McGinn is funded in her current PhD fellowship through the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children (RBHSC) charitable funds.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Heart Failure
  • CHD
  • Biomarker
  • Heart failure
  • biomarker


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