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Bacterial infiltration in structural heart valve disease

: Oberbach, Andreas; Friedrich, Maik; Lehmann, Stefanie; Schlichting, Nadine; Kullnick, Yvonne; Gräber, Sandra; Buschmann, Tilo; Hagl, Christian; Bagaev, Erik; Gruhle, Miriam; Albert, Marion; Luehr, Maximilian; Pichlmaier, Maximilian; Rodloff, Arne C.; Reiche, Kristin; Kraft, Theresa; Horn, Friedemann


The journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery (2019), Online First
ISSN: 0022-5223
ISSN: 1097-685X
Fraunhofer IZI ()
bacterial infiltration; calcification; metagenome analysis; polymicrobial; structural valvular heart disease; transcatheter aortic valve implantation

Objectives: The pathology of structural valvular heart disease (sVHD) ranges from basic diseases of rheumatologic origin to chronic degenerative remodeling processes after acute bacterial infections. Molecular genetic methods allow detection of the complete microbial spectrum in heart valve tissues independent of microbiological cultivation. In particular, whole-metagenome analysis is a sensitive and highly specific analytical method that allows a deeper insight into the pathogenicity of the diseases. In the present study we assessed the pathogen spectrum in heart valve tissue from 25 sVHD patients using molecular and microbiological methods.
Methods: Twenty-five sVHD patients were selected randomly from an observational cohort study (March 2016 to January 2017). The explanted native heart valves were examined using microbiological methods and immunohistological structural analysis. In addition, the bacterial metagenome of the heart valve tissue was determined using next-generation sequencing.
Results: The use of sonication as a pretreatment of valve tissue from 4 sVHD patients permitted successful detection of Clostridium difficile, Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus saccharolyticus, and Staphylococcus haemolyticus using microbial cultivation. Histological staining revealed intramural localization. Metagenome analysis identified a higher rate of bacterial infiltration in 52% of cases. The pathogen spectrum included both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.
Conclusions: Microbiological and molecular biological studies are necessary to detect the spectrum of bacteria in a calcified heart valve. Metagenome analysis is a valid method to gain new insight into the polymicrobial pathophysiology of sVHD. Our results suggest that an undetected proportion of sVHD might be triggered by chronic inflammation or influenced by secondary bacterial infiltration.