Mechanisms of pulmonary transfer factor decline following heart transplantation

O. A. Al-Rawas*, R. Carter, R. D. Stevenson, S. K. Naik, D. J. Wheatley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Although the decline in the pulmonary transfer factor (TL(CO)) following heart transplantation is well documented, the causes and mechanisms of this decline remain unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the relative contribution of each of TL(CO) components (the diffusing capacity of the alveolar-capillary membrane (D(M)), the pulmonary capillary blood volume (V(C)) and haemoglobin concentration) to TL(CO) reduction in heart transplant recipients. Methods: TL(CO) and its components were measured in 75 heart transplant recipients (mean age 48 years, range 19-61) between 6 weeks and 36 months after transplantation using the Roughton and Forster method and the single-breath technique. Results were compared with data from 38 heart transplant candidates (mean age 51 years, range 34-61) and 26 normal subjects (mean age 47 years, range 27-62). Results: The mean percentage predicted TL(CO) was reduced in recipients compared to candidates (56.9 and 69.9%, respectively, P<0.001) and both were lower than normal controls (97.7%, P<0.001). The mean percent predicted V(C) was also reduced in recipients compared to candidates (52.8% vs. 80.2 (4.2)%, P<0.001) which was also lower than normal subjects (102%, P<0.001). D(M) was equally reduced in recipients and candidates (77.7 and 81.4%, respectively, P=0.48) compared to normal subjects (100.0%, P<0.001). Correction for haemoglobin concentration increased TL(CO) in recipients to 63.5% (P<0.001), but it remained lower than haemoglobin-corrected TL(CO) in candidates (71.1%, P<0.001). In recipients, the intra-capillary resistance (1/θV(C)) formed 60% of the total resistance to CO transfer (1/TL(CO)) compared to 50% in candidates and normal subjects. Conclusions: TL(CO) decline following heart transplantation is due to an increase in the intra-capillary resistance, and this appears to be due to a combination of anaemia and reduced pulmonary capillary blood volume, with the diffusing capacity of the alveolar-capillary membrane remaining unchanged. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-361
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Alveolar-capillary membrane diffusing capacity
  • Heart transplantation
  • Pulmonary capillary blood volume
  • Pulmonary function
  • Pulmonary transfer factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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