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OBJECTIVES: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that compared levels of molecular biomarkers in women with peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) to those in healthy pregnant and postpartum women to: (1) assess the evidence for prolactin (PRL) metabolism in PPCM, (2) ascertain the evidence for biomarkers of iron deficiency in PPCM, (3) identify other biomarkers associated with PPCM. METHODS: We searched Medline, Embase, Cumulated Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and the Global Health Library from inception without language restriction for studies that compared biomarkers levels in PPCM cases to healthy controls. Pooled standardised mean difference (SMD) was generated using a random effects model for the difference in levels of biomarkers. RESULTS: Two studies assessed the association of PRL with PPCM, and reported that PPCM cases have higher levels of total PRL. No studies investigated iron metabolism in PPCM. Other biomarkers associated with PPCM included serum levels of natriuretic peptides (SMD=3.77, 95% CI 0.71 to 6.82), albumin (SMD=-0.67, 95% CI -1.01 to -0.32), C-reactive protein (SMD=1.67, 95% CI 0.22 to 3.12), selenium (SMD=-0.73, 95% CI -1.58 to 0.12), cardiac troponins (SMD=1.06, 95% CI 0.33 to 1.80), creatinine (SMD=0.51, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.69), white bloodcells (SMD=0.44, 95 % CI 0.07 to 0.82), haemoglobin (SMD=-0.45, 95% CI -0.64 to-0.26). CONCLUSIONS: More robust molecular studies are needed to explore the association between prolactin and PPCM in human subjects and to determine the extent to which iron deficiency (with or without anaemia) contributes to the risk of PPCM.

Original publication




Journal article


Open Heart

Publication Date





biomarkers, cardiomyopathies, meta-analysis, pregnancy, systematic reviews as topic, Anemia, Iron-Deficiency, Biomarkers, Cardiomyopathies, Female, Heart Disease Risk Factors, Humans, Iron, Iron Deficiencies, Peripartum Period, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular, Prognosis, Prolactin, Risk Assessment