A greater understanding of the molecular basis of hibernating myocardium may assist in identifying those patients who would most benefit from revascularization. Paired heart biopsies were taken from hypocontractile and normally-contracting myocardium (identified by cardiovascular magnetic resonance) from 6 patients with chronic stable angina scheduled for bypass grafting. Gene expression profiles of hypocontractile and normally-contracting samples were compared using Affymetrix microarrays. The data for patients with confirmed hibernating myocardium were analysed separately and a different, though overlapping, set (up to 380) of genes was identified which may constitute a molecular fingerprint for hibernating myocardium. The expression of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) was increased in hypocontractile relative to normally-contracting myocardium. The expression of BNP correlated most closely with the expression of proenkephalin and follistatin 3, which may constitute additional heart failure markers. Our data illustrate differential gene expression in hypocontractile and/hibernating myocardium relative to normally-contracting myocardium within individual human hearts. Changes in expression of these genes, including increased relative expression of natriuretic and other factors, may constitute a molecular signature for hypocontractile and/or hibernating myocardium
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