Circulating biomarkers of myocardial fibrosis: the need for a reappraisal
Myocardial fibrosis impairs cardiac function, in addition to facilitating arrhythmias and ischemia, and thus influences the evolution and outcome of cardiac diseases. Its assessment is therefore clinically relevant. Although tissue biopsy is the gold standard for the diagnosis of myocardial fibrosis, a number of circulating biomarkers have been proposed for the noninvasive assessment of this lesion. A review of the published clinical data available on these biomarkers shows that most of them lack proof that they actually reflect the myocardial accumulation of fibrous tissue. In this "call to action" article, we propose that this absence of proof may lead to misinterpretations when considering the incremental value provided by the biomarkers with respect to traditional diagnostic tools in the clinical handling of patients. We thus argue that strategies are needed to more strictly validate whether a given circulating biomarker actually reflects histologically proven myocardial fibrosis before it is applied clinically.