Doxorubicin-induced cardiovascular toxicity: a longitudinal evaluation of functional and molecular markers

Matthias Bosman*, Dustin Krüger, Charles Van Assche, Hanne Boen, Cédric Neutel, Kasper Favere, Constantijn Franssen, Wim Martinet, Lynn Roth, Guido De Meyer, Berta Cillero-Pastor, Leen Delrue, Ward Heggermont, Emeline Van Craenenbroeck, Pieter-Jan Guns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


AIMS: Apart from cardiotoxicity, the chemotherapeutic doxorubicin (DOX) induces vascular toxicity, represented by arterial stiffness and endothelial dysfunction. Both parameters are of interest for cardiovascular risk stratification as they are independent predictors of future cardiovascular events in the general population. However, the time course of DOX-induced cardiovascular toxicity remains unclear. Moreover, current biomarkers for cardiovascular toxicity prove insufficient. Here, we longitudinally evaluated functional and molecular markers of DOX-induced cardiovascular toxicity in a murine model. Molecular markers were further validated in patient plasma. METHODS AND RESULTS: DOX (4 mg/kg) or saline (vehicle) was administered intraperitoneally to young, male mice weekly for six weeks. In vivo cardiovascular function and ex vivo arterial stiffness and vascular reactivity were evaluated at baseline, during DOX therapy (week 2 and 4) and after therapy cessation (week 6, 9 and 15). Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) declined from week 4 in the DOX group. DOX increased arterial stiffness in vivo and ex vivo at week 2, which reverted thereafter. Importantly, DOX-induced arterial stiffness preceded reduced LVEF. Further, DOX impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation at week 2 and 6, which recovered at week 9 and 15. Conversely, contraction with phenylephrine was consistently higher in the DOX-treated group. Furthermore, proteomic analysis on aortic tissue identified increased thrombospondin-1 (THBS1) and alpha-1-antichymotrypsin (SERPINA3) at week 2 and 6. Upregulated THBS1 and SERPINA3 persisted during follow-up. Finally, THBS1 and SERPINA3 were quantified in plasma of patients. Cancer survivors with anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity (AICT; LVEF?<?50%) showed elevated THBS1 and SERPINA3 levels compared to age-matched control patients (LVEF?=?60%). CONCLUSIONS: DOX increased arterial stiffness and impaired endothelial function, which both preceded reduced LVEF. Vascular dysfunction restored after DOX therapy cessation whereas cardiac dysfunction persisted. Further, we identified SERPINA3 and THBS1 as promising biomarkers of DOX-induced cardiovascular toxicity, which were confirmed in AICT patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2579-2590
Number of pages12
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2023


  • arterial stiffness
  • cardiotoxicity
  • doxorubicin
  • endothelial dysfunction


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