Provocative biomarker stress test: stress-delta N-terminal pro-B type natriuretic peptide.


Objective:Stress testing is commonly performed in emergency department (ED) patients with suspected acute coronary syndrome (ACS). We hypothesised that changes in N-terminal pro-B type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) concentrations from baseline to post-stress testing (stress-delta values) differentiate patients with ischaemic stress tests from controls. Methods:We prospectively enrolled 320 adult patients with suspected ACS in an ED-based observation unit who were undergoing exercise stress echocardiography. We measured plasma NT-proBNP concentrations at baseline and at 2 and 4  hours post-stress and compared stress-delta NT-proBNP between patients with abnormal stress tests versus controls using non-parametric statistics (Wilcoxon test) due to skew. We calculated the diagnostic test characteristics of stress-delta NT-proBNP for myocardial ischaemia on imaging. Results:Among 320 participants, the median age was 51 (IQR 44-59) years, 147 (45.9%) were men, and 122 (38.1%) were African-American. Twenty-six (8.1%) had myocardial ischaemia. Static and stress-deltas NT-proBNP differed at all time points between groups. The median stress-deltas at 2  hours were 10.4 (IQR 6.0-51.7) ng/L vs 1.7 (IQR -0.4 to 8.7) ng/L, and at 4  hours were 14.8 (IQR 5.0-22.3) ng/L vs 1.0 (-2.0 to 10.3) ng/L for patients with ischaemia versus those without. Areas under the receiver operating curves were 0.716 and 0.719 for 2-hour and 4-hour stress-deltas, respectively. After adjusting for baseline NT-proBNP levels, the 4-hour stress-delta NT-proBNP remained significantly different between the groups (p=0.009). Conclusion:Among patients with ischaemic stress tests, static and 4-hour stress-delta NT-proBNP values were significantly higher. Further study is needed to determine if stress-delta NT-proBNP is a useful adjunct to stress testing.





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Publication Info

Limkakeng, Alexander T, J Clancy Leahy, S Michelle Griffin, Yuliya Lokhnygina, Elias Jaffa, Robert H Christenson and L Kristin Newby (2018). Provocative biomarker stress test: stress-delta N-terminal pro-B type natriuretic peptide. Open Heart, 5(2). p. e000847. 10.1136/openhrt-2018-000847 Retrieved from

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Alexander Tan Limkakeng

Professor of Emergency Medicine

Dr. Alexander T. Limkakeng, Jr., MD, MHSc, FACEP is a Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Director of the Acute Care Research Team, and Director of the Resident Research Fellowship for the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Limkakeng has served as chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Research Committee, and been the Course Director of the ACEP Research Forum from 2016-2018, the largest emergency medical research platform in the nation. He is also the Assistant Director of ACEP’s Emergency Medicine Basic Research Skills course. He was elected to the Nominating Committee of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine.

As a researcher, Dr. Limkakeng has led multiple clinical trials and interdepartmental sponsored projects and is author on over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts. These include studies in emergency conditions such as COVID-19, traumatic brain injury, hypertension, heart failure, thrombosis, stroke, envenomations, and septic shock. His research has been funded by grants and contracts totaling over $9 million dollars. He has lectured internationally on acute coronary syndrome, responsible conduct of research, design of clinical trials, and precision medicine in emergency care. He has led Duke’s involvement in NIH-funded research networks and in industry-funded work that led to FDA approval for multiple high-sensitivity cardiac troponin assays and point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic tests. He has servesd as Co-PI for the Duke U24 Hub in the NIH Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network (EPPIC-Net) (1U24NS114416) and now serves as a co-PI on the Duke U24 Hub award (1U24NS129498) in the NIH Strategies to Innovate Emergency Care Clinical Trials (SIREN) Network and in the NIH NINDS Strokenet network (1U24NS135250)

His personal research interest is finding new ways to diagnose acute coronary syndrome. In particular, he is interested in novel biomarkers and precision medicine approaches to this problem. The common element throughout this work is a focus on time-sensitive health conditions.

Yuliya Vladimirovna Lokhnygina

Associate Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Statistical methods in clinical trials, survival analysis, adaptive designs, adaptive treatment strategies, causal inference in observational studies, semiparametric inference

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