Trastuzumab and target-therapy side effects: Is still valid to differentiate anthracycline Type I from Type II cardiomyopathies?

Gennaro Riccio, Carmela Coppola, Giovanna Piscopo, Immacolata Capasso, Carlo Maurea, Emanuela Esposito, Claudia De Lorenzo, Nicola Maurea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The improvement in cancer therapy and the increasing number of long term survivors unearth the issue of cardiovascular side effects of anticancer treatments. As a paradox in cancer survivors, delayed cardiotoxicity has emerged as a significant problem. Two categories of cardiotoxic side effects of antineoplastic drugs have been previously proposed: Type I cardiotoxicity, defined as permanent cardiotoxicity, is usually caused by anthracyclines; Type II cardiotoxicity, considered as reversible cardiotoxicity, has been mainly related to monoclonal antibodies. The cardiotoxicity of antibodies has been associated to trastuzumab, a humanized anti-ErbB2 monoclonal antibody currently in clinical use for the therapy of breast carcinomas, which induces cardiac dysfunction when used in monotherapy, or in combination with anthracyclines. Furthermore, recent retrospective studies have shown an increased incidence of heart failure and/or cardiomyopathy in patients treated with trastuzumab, that can persist many years after the conclusion of the therapy, thus suggesting that the side toxic effects are not always reversible as it was initially proposed. On the other hand, early detection and prompt therapy of anthracycline associated cardiotoxicity can lead to substantial recovery of cardiac function. On the basis of these observations, we propose to find a new different classification for cardiotoxic side effects of drugs used in cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Mar 18 2016


  • anthracyclines
  • cancer therapy
  • cardiotoxicity
  • immunotherapy
  • trastuzumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology

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