ST2 Is a Biomarker of Pediatric Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Severity and Clinical Worsening

Published:February 17, 2021DOI:


      Pediatric pulmonary hypertension is a severe disease defined by sustained elevation of pulmonary artery pressures and pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR). Noninvasive diagnostic and prognostic markers that are more pulmonary vascular specific have been elusive because of disease heterogeneity and patient growth.

      Research Question

      Is soluble suppressor of tumorigenicity (ST2) associated with pulmonary hemodynamic and functional changes in pediatric pulmonary hypertension? Does ST2 improve mortality risk models in pediatric pulmonary hypertension?

      Study Design and Methods

      Two pediatric cohorts (age < 21 years) were assayed for ST2 and N-terminal prohormone B-natriuretic peptide: a cross-sectional cohort from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute-funded National Biological Sample and Data Repository for PAH (PAHB) (N = 182), and a second longitudinal cohort from Children’s Hospital of Colorado (N = 61). Adjusted linear regression was used for association with clinical variables. Clinical mortality models (the Registry to Evaluate Early and Long-Term PAH Disease Management [REVEAL] score) with and without ST2 were used to predict worsening outcomes and compared. Pulmonary artery endothelial and smooth muscle cell ST2 expression and secretion were assayed in vitro.


      In an adjusted (age and sex) analysis in the PAHB, ST2 was significantly associated with shorter 6-min walk distance (P = .03) and increased PVR index (P = .02). In adjusted longitudinal regression in the Children’s Hospital of Colorado cohort, ST2 was significantly associated with higher PVR index (P < .001), shorter 6-min walk distance (P = .01), and higher mean pulmonary artery pressure (P < .001). Although the REVEAL Risk Score Calculator 2.0 was predictive of clinical worsening in the PAHB (hazard ratio, 1.88), addition of ST2 significantly improved the model (hazard ratio, 2.05). In cell culture, ST2 was produced and secreted predominately by endothelial cells as opposed to smooth muscle cells (P < .0001).


      In two pediatric PAH cohorts, elevated ST2 was associated with unfavorable pulmonary hemodynamics and functional measures, clinical worsening, and significantly improved prediction of clinical worsening. Pulmonary artery endothelial cellular expression of ST2 suggests that ST2 is a more pulmonary vascular-specific marker for pulmonary hypertension.

      Key Words


      6MWD (6-min walk distance), APAH (associated pulmonary arterial hypertension), CHC (Children’s Hospital Colorado), IPAH (idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension), IQR (interquartile range), mPAP (mean pulmonary arterial pressure), NT-proBNP (N-terminal prohormone B-natriuretic peptide), NYHA FC (New York Heart Association functional class), PAH (pulmonary arterial hypertension), PAHB (National Biological Sample and Data Repository for PAH), PCWP (pulmonary capillary wedge pressure), PHBI (Pulmonary Hypertension Breakout Initiative), PVR (pulmonary vascular resistance), PVRi (pulmonary vascular resistance index), RAP (right atrial pressure), REVEAL (Registry to Evaluate Early and Long-Term PAH Disease Management), RHC (right heart catheterization), ST2 (soluble suppressor of tumorigenicity), ST2-L (transmembrane ST2 receptor), WU (Woods unit)
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