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Evaluation of bromocriptine in the treatment of acute severe peripartum cardiomyopathy: a proof-of-concept pilot study.

BACKGROUND: Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a potentially life-threatening heart disease that occurs in previously healthy women. We identified prolactin, mainly its 16-kDa angiostatic and proapoptotic form, as a key factor in PPCM pathophysiology. Previous reports suggest that bromocriptine may have beneficial effects in women with acute onset of PPCM. METHODS AND RESULTS: A prospective, single-center, randomized, open-label, proof-of-concept pilot study of women with newly diagnosed PPCM receiving standard care (PPCM-Std; n=10) versus standard care plus bromocriptine for 8 weeks (PPCM-Br, n=10) was conducted. Because mothers receiving bromocriptine could not breast-feed, the 6-month outcome of their children (n=21) was studied as a secondary end point. Blinded clinical, hemodynamic, and echocardiographic assessments were performed at baseline and 6 months after diagnosis. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging was performed 4 to 6 weeks after diagnosis in PPCM-Br patients. There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics, including serum 16-kDa prolactin levels and cathepsin D activity, between the 2 study groups. PPCM-Br patients displayed greater recovery of left ventricular ejection fraction (27% to 58%; P=0.012) compared with PPCM-Std patients (27% to 36%) at 6 months. One patient in the PPCM-Br group died compared with 4 patients in the PPCM-Std group. Significantly fewer PPCM-Br patients (n=1, 10%) experienced the composite end point of poor outcome defined as death, New York Heart Association functional class III/IV, or left ventricular ejection fraction <35% at 6 months compared with the PPCM-Std patients (n=8, 80%; P=0.006). Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging revealed no intracavitary thrombi. Infants of mothers in both groups showed normal growth and survival. CONCLUSIONS: In this trial, the addition of bromocriptine to standard heart failure therapy appeared to improve left ventricular ejection fraction and a composite clinical outcome in women with acute severe PPCM, although the number of patients studied was small and the results cannot be considered definitive. Larger-scale multicenter and blinded studies are in progress to test this strategy more robustly.

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