While the presence of certain cardiac biomarkers in blood can be used to determine whether a patient has already suffered a heart attack, there is currently no blood test to determine a patient’s imminent heart attack risk. Now, researchers from Scripps Translational Science Institute and the Scripps Research Institute believe they may have found such a test.
The team characterized the circulating endothelial cells (CECs) of heart attack patients, and found that the patients’ CECs were misshapen, had multiple nuclei, and were larger than CECs in a healthy control group. The researchers hope to validate their findings and develop a test to predict heart attacks within the next two years.
From the study abstract:
Here, we characterize circulating endothelial cells (CECs) using an automated and clinically feasible CEC three-channel fluorescence microscopy assay in 50 consecutive patients with ST-segment elevation MI and 44 consecutive healthy controls. CEC counts were significantly elevated in MI cases versus controls, with median numbers of 19 and 4 cells/ml, respectively (P = 1.1 × 10−10).
Morphological analysis of the microscopy images of CECs revealed a 2.5-fold increase (P < 0.0001) in cellular area and a twofold increase (P < 0.0001) in nuclear area of MI CECs versus healthy controls, age-matched CECs, as well as CECs obtained from patients with preexisting peripheral vascular disease. The distribution of CEC images that contained from 2 to 10 nuclei demonstrates that MI patients were the only subject group to contain more than 3 nuclei per image, indicating that multicellular and multinuclear clusters are specific for acute MI.
Press statement: New Test May Predict the Possibility of a Heart Attack…
Study abstract at Science Translational Medicine: Characterization of Circulating Endothelial Cells in Acute Myocardial Infarction