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Is low-risk status a surrogate outcome in pulmonary arterial hypertension? An analysis of three randomised trials

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine May 22, 2023

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Research Areas

PAIR Center Research Team


Bryan Blette

Headshot of Michael Harhay

Michael Harhay


BACKGROUND: Targeting short-term improvements in multicomponent risk scores for mortality in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) could result in improved long-term outcomes. We aimed to determine whether PAH risk scores were adequate surrogates for clinical worsening or mortality outcomes in PAH randomised clinical trials (RCTs).

METHODS: We performed an individual participant data meta-analysis of RCTs selected from PAH trials provided by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We calculated predicted risk using the COMPERA, COMPERA 2.0, non-invasive FPHR, REVEAL 2.0, and REVEAL Lite 2 risk scores. The primary outcome of interest was time to clinical worsening, a composite endpoint composed of any of the following events: all-cause death, hospitalisation for worsening PAH, lung transplantation, atrial septostomy, discontinuation of study treatment (or study withdrawal) for worsening PAH, initiation of parenteral prostacyclin analogue therapy, or decrease of at least 15% in 6-min walk distance from baseline, combined with either worsening of WHO functional class from baseline or the addition of an approved PAH treatment. The secondary outcome of interest was time to all-cause mortality. We assessed the surrogacy of these risk scores, parameterised as attainment of low-risk status by 16 weeks, for improvement in long-term clinical worsening and survival using mediation and meta-analysis frameworks.

FINDINGS: Of 28 trials received from the FDA, three RCTs (AMBITION, GRIPHON, and SERAPHIN; n=2508) had the data necessary to assess long-term surrogacy. The mean age was 49 years (SD 16), 1956 (78%) participants were women, 1704 (68%) were classified as White, and 280 (11%) were Hispanic or Latino. 1388 (55%) of 2503 participants with available data had idiopathic PAH and 776 (31%) of 2503 had PAH associated with connective tissue disease. In a mediation analysis, the proportions of treatment effects explained by attainment of low-risk status ranged only from 7% to 13%. In a meta-analysis of trial-regions, the treatment effects on low-risk status were not predictive of the treatment effects on time to clinical worsening (R2 values 0·01-0·19) nor the treatment effects on time to all-cause mortality (R2 values 0-0·2). A leave-one-out analysis suggested that the use of these risk scores as surrogates might lead to biased inferences regarding the effect of therapies on clinical outcomes in PAH RCTs. Results were similar when using absolute risk scores at 16 weeks as the potential surrogates.

INTERPRETATION: Multicomponent risk scores have utility for the prediction of outcomes in patients with PAH. Clinical surrogacy for long-term outcomes cannot be inferred from observational studies of outcomes. Our analyses of three PAH trials with long-term follow-up suggest that further study is necessary before using these or other scores as surrogate outcomes in PAH RCTs or clinical care.


Cardiovascular Medical Research and Education Fund
National Institutes of Health


Bryan S Blette, Jude Moutchia, Nadine Al-Naamani, Corey E Ventetuolo, Chao Cheng, Dina Appleby, Ryan J Urbanowicz, Jason Fritz, Jeremy A Mazurek, Fan Li, Steven M Kawut, Michael O Harhay