A secondary analysis of a large landmark clinical trial of how the sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor dapagliflozin effects cardiovascular risk has identified two biomarkers that can help better determine which patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease risk would derive the most benefit from the drug.
The researchers found that N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hsTnT) levels helped identify a subset of T2D patients at higher risk of major adverse cardiovascular events who would benefit most from dapagliflozin.
“We’ve shown previously that these two biomarkers are very robust risk indicators for cardiovascular death and heart failure events,” senior study author David A. Morrow, MD, of Harvard University, Boston, said in an interview. “In this study, we now show that the two biomarkers also yield important prognostic information for MACE [major adverse cardiovascular events].”
Although NT-proBNP is typically measured to diagnose heart failure, and hsTnT to diagnose acute MI, Dr. Morrow pointed out that this analysis demonstrated the potential for using the two tests to evaluate risks in T2D patients.
The secondary analysis included 14,565 patients in the DECLARE-TIMI 58 trial. The patients had T2D and multiple risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (about 60%) or established ASCVD (about 40%). All patients had available blood samples and the data were collected from May 2013 to September 2018. The primary outcome was MACE, a composite of MI, ischemic stroke, and cardiovascular death. The results were reported online in JAMA Cardiology.
The analysis found that higher baseline concentrations of NT-proBNP increased MACE risks by 62% (95% confidence interval, 1.49-1.76) and hsTnT elevated those risks by 59% (95% CI, 1.46-1.74).
Among placebo patients, when divided into risk quartiles, those in the highest quartile had significantly higher risk with both elevated NT-proBNP and hsTnT, compared with those with low concentrations. For example, patients with established ASCVD had a 22.9% risk vs. 9.5% with elevated NT-proBNP (P < .001) and a 24.2% vs. 7.2% risk with elevated hsTnT (P < .001). The gap was similar for patients with multiple risk factors.
Dr. Morrow noted that the main DECLARE-TIMI 58 trial showed that dapagliflozin reduced the rates of cardiovascular death or hospitalization for heart failure in patients with T2D, when compared to placebo, but didn’t reach statistical significance for MACE (N Engl J Med. 2019;380:347-57).
“We have previously shown that among patients with T2D who have high risk indicators, such as prior MI or long-standing diabetes, dapagliflozin also appeared to reduce MACE,” Dr. Morrow said. “In this study, we find that these two widely available biomarkers also identify a high-risk group who may have even more potential benefits from treatment with an SGLT2i.”
Dr. Morrow noted that the study design – a nested prospective biomarker study within a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial – “is a particular strength.”
Results clarify which patients will benefit
This secondary analysis of DECLARE-TIMI 58 brings more clarity to the types of T2D patients who will get the most cardiovascular benefits from dapagliflozin, said Matthew J. Budoff, MD, professor of medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, and Endowed Chair of Preventive Cardiology at the Lundquist Institute in Torrance, Calif.
“The big picture is, we’ve known for some time from epidemiologic studies that these biomarkers, when they’re elevated, mean that the patient is at higher risk of having a cardiovascular event,” he said, “but I think what it helps us with is in knowing in whom to use dapagliflozin for prevention of ASCVD. The effect in the DECLARE-TIMI 58 trial was quite modest, but if you can subgroup it, in these high-risk people there’s a more profound effect. It helps in risk stratification because the absolute benefit is larger.”
The specific biomarkers, NT-proBNP and hsTnT, “haven’t been explored very much in clinical trials,” Dr. Budoff said, “so I do think that it’s nice that in a randomized trial it plays out the way we might expect.”
He added that “for many clinicians this is novel, because I don’t think they were aware of the biomarker data, so I think that this does add some clinical benefit in that context.” The findings also strengthen the case to get T2D patients with higher ASCVD risk onto SGLT2 inhibitors if they’re not already, he said.
Dr. Morrow disclosed relationships with AstraZeneca, Roche Diagnostics, Abbott Laboratories, Anthos Therapeutics, ARCA Biopharma, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Regeneron, Siemens, and InCarda outside the reported work.
Dr. Budoff has no relevant disclosures.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
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