Comparative Histopathological Analysis of Mitral Valves in Barlow Disease and Fibroelastic Deficiency
Whether Barlow disease (BD) and fibroelastic deficiency (FED), the main causes of mitral valve prolapse (MVP), should be considered 2 distinct diseases remains unknown. Mitral valves from patients who required surgery for severe mitral regurgitation due to degenerative nonsyndromic MVP were analyzed. Intraoperative diagnosis of BD or FED was based on leaflet redundancy and thickness, number of segments involved, and annular dimension. The removed medial scallop of the posterior leaflet and attached chordae were used for histopathological and immunohistological assessment. Histologically, compared to normal controls (n = 3), BD (n = 14), and FED (n = 9) leaflets demonstrated an altered architecture and increased thickness. Leaflet thickness was greater and chordae thickness lower in BD than FED (P < 0.0001). In BD, increased thickness was owing to spongiosa expansion (proteoglycan accumulation) and intimal thickening on fibrosa and atrialis; in FED, local thickening was predominant on the fibrosa side, with accumulation of proteoglycan-like material around the chordae. Collagen accumulation was observed in FED leaflets and chords and decreased in BD. Fragmented elastin fibers were present in BD and FED; elastin decreased in BD but increased in FED leaflets and around chordae. Activated myofibroblasts accumulate in both diseased leaflets and chords, but more abundantly in FED chordae (P < 0.0001), independently of age, suggesting a role of these cells in chordal rupture. There were more CD34-positive cells in BD leaflets and in FED chordae (P < 0.01). In BD leaflets (but not chordae) proliferative Ki67-positive cells were more abundant (P < 0.01) and matrix metalloproteinase 2 levels were increased (P < 0.01) indicating tissue remodeling. Upregulation of transforming growth factor beta and pERK signaling pathways was evident in both diseases but more prominent in FED leaflets (continued on next page)(P < 0.001), with pERK upregulation in FED chordae (P < 0.0001). Most cellular and signaling markers were negligible in control valves. Quantitative immunohistopathological analyses demonstrated distinct changes between BD and FED valves: predominant matrix degradation in BD and increased profibrotic signaling pathways in FED, indicating that BD and FED are 2 different entities. These results may pave the way for genetic studies of MVP and development of preventive drug therapies.