Long-term toxicities of germ cell cancer (GCC) treatment are of particular importance in young men with a life expectancy of several decades after curative treatment. This study aimed to investigate the long-term effects of platinum-based chemotherapy on cardiac function and myocardial tissue in GCC survivors by cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging.
Asymptomatic GCC survivors ≥ 3 years after platinum-based chemotherapy and age-matched healthy controls underwent CMR assessment, including left ventricular (LV) and right ventricular (RV) ejection fraction (EF), strain analysis, late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) imaging, and T1/T2 mapping.
Forty-four survivors (age 44 [interquartile range, IQR 37–52] years; follow-up time 10 [IQR 5–15] years after chemotherapy) and 21 controls were evaluated. LV- and RVEF were lower in GCC survivors compared to controls (LVEF 56 ± 5% vs. 59 ± 5%, p = 0.017; RVEF 50 ± 7% vs. 55 ± 7%, p = 0.008). Seven percent (3/44) of survivors showed reduced LVEF (< 50%), and 41% (18/44) showed borderline LVEF (50–54%). The strain analysis revealed significantly reduced deformation compared to controls (LV global longitudinal strain [GLS] -13 ± 2% vs. -15 ± 1%, p < 0.001; RV GLS -15 ± 4% vs. -19 ± 4%, p = 0.005). Tissue characterization revealed focal myocardial fibrosis in 9 survivors (20%) and lower myocardial native T1 times in survivors compared to controls (1202 ± 25 ms vs. 1226 ± 37 ms, p = 0.016). Attenuated LVEF was observed after two cycles of platinum-based chemotherapy (54 ± 5% vs. 62 ± 5%, p < 0.001).
Based on CMR evaluation, combination chemotherapy with cumulative cisplatin ≥ 200 mg/m2 is associated with attenuated biventricular systolic function and myocardial tissue alterations in asymptomatic long-term GCC survivors.
Clinical relevance statement
Platinum-based chemotherapy is associated with decreased systolic function, non-ischemic focal myocardial scar, and decreased T1 times in asymptomatic long-term germ cell cancer survivors. Clinicians should be particularly aware of the risk of cardiac toxicity after platinum-based chemotherapy.
• Platinum-based chemotherapy is associated with attenuation of biventricular systolic function, lower myocardial T1 relaxation times, and non-ischemic late gadolinium enhancement.
• Decreased systolic function and non-ischemic late gadolinium enhancement are associated with a cumulative cisplatin dose of ≥ 200 mg/m2.
• Cardiac MRI can help to identify chemotherapy-associated changes in cardiac function and tissue in asymptomatic long-term germ cell cancer survivors.