Cardiotoxic effects and myocardial injury: the search for a more precise definition of drug cardiotoxicity

Daniela Maria Cardinale, Martina Zaninotto, Carlo Maria Cipolla, Claudio Passino, Mario Plebani, Aldo Clerico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drug-induced cardiotoxicity is a major clinical problem; cardiotoxic drugs may induce both cardiac dysfunction and myocardial injury. Several recent studies reported that cardiac troponins measured with high-sensitivity methods (hs-cTn) can enable the early detection of myocardial injury related to chemotherapy or abuse of drugs that are potentially cardiotoxic. Several authors have some concerns about the standard definition of cardiotoxicity, in particular, regarding the early evaluation of chemotherapy cardiotoxicity in cancer patients. Several recent studies using the hs-cTn assay indicate that myocardial injury may precede by some months or years the diagnosis of heart failure (HF) based on the evaluation of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). Accordingly, hs-cTn assay should considered to be a reliable laboratory test for the early detection of asymptomatic or subclinical cardiotoxic damage in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy. In accordance with the Fourth Universal Definition of Myocardial Infarction and also taking into account the recent experimental and clinical evidences, the definition of drug-cardiotoxicity should be updated considering the early evaluation of myocardial injury by means of hs-cTn assay. It is conceivable that the combined use of hs-cTn assay and cardiac imaging techniques for the evaluation of cardiotoxicity will significantly increase both diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, and also better prevent chemotherapy-related left ventricular (LV) dysfunction and other adverse cardiac events. However, large randomized clinical trials are needed to evaluate the cost/benefit ratio of standardized protocols for the early detection of cardiotoxicity using hs-cTn assay in patients receiving chemotherapy for malignant diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalClin. Chem. Lab. Med.
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Animals
  • Biomarkers/blood
  • Cardiotoxicity/blood
  • Humans
  • Troponin I/blood
  • Troponin T/blood


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