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Heart-type fatty acid binding protein as an early marker for myocardial infarction: systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Christopher Carroll1,
  2. Mohamad Al Khalaf1,
  3. John W Stevens1,
  4. Joanna Leaviss1,
  5. Steve Goodacre1,
  6. Paul O Collinson2,
  7. Jenny Wang1
  1. 1School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Department of Chemical Pathology, St George's Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Steve Goodacre, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield S1 4DA, UK; s.goodacre{at}


Background Heart-type fatty acid binding protein (H-FABP) has been proposed as an early biomarker of myocardial infarction (MI). The authors aimed to undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the early sensitivity and specificity of quantitative and qualitative H-FABP assays.

Methods The authors undertook a systematic search using electronic databases, citation lists and expert contacts to identify all diagnostic cohort studies of patients presenting with suspected acute coronary syndrome that compared H-FABP at presentation to a reference standard based on the Universal definition of MI. Study quality was assessed using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies tool. Meta-analysis was conducted using Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation.

Results The authors included eight studies of quantitative H-FABP and nine studies of qualitative H-FABP. The summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity were 81% (95% prediction interval 50% to 95%) and 80% (26% to 98%) respectively for the quantitative assays and 68% (11% to 97%) and 92% (20% to 100%) respectively for the qualitative assays. Four studies reported the sensitivity of troponin and H-FABP at presentation in which the combination was considered positive if either test was positive. The addition of H-FABP to troponin increased sensitivity from 42–75% to 76–97% but decreased specificity from 94–100% to 65–93%.

Conclusion H-FABP has modest sensitivity and specificity for MI at presentation but estimates are subject to substantial uncertainty and primary data are subject to substantial heterogeneity. H-FABP may have a role alongside troponin in improving early sensitivity but comparison with high sensitivity troponin assays is required.

  • Myocardial infarction
  • cardiac markers
  • diagnosis
  • meta-analysis
  • law
  • thromboembolic disease
  • cost effectiveness
  • research
  • acute coronary syndrome
  • heart failure

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  • Funding This project trial was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme (number 09/22/21) and sponsored by the University of Sheffield. The study funders had no role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication. The researchers were independent of the study funders.

  • Disclaimer The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR HTA. All authors, external and internal, had full access to all of the data (including statistical reports and tables) in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.