Growth differentiation factor 15 in adverse cardiac remodelling: from biomarker to causal player

Marian Wesseling, Julius H.C. de Poel, Saskia C A de Jager

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Heart failure is a growing health issue as a negative consequence of improved survival upon myocardial infarction, unhealthy lifestyle, and the ageing of our population. The large and complex pathology underlying heart failure makes diagnosis and especially treatment very difficult. There is an urgent demand for discriminative biomarkers to aid disease management of heart failure. Studying cellular pathways and pathophysiological mechanisms contributing to disease initiation and progression is crucial for understanding the disease process and will aid to identification of novel biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets. Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) is a proven valuable biomarker for different pathologies, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Although the prognostic value of GDF15 in heart failure is robust, the biological function of GDF15 in adverse cardiac remodelling is not fully understood. GDF15 is a distant member of the transforming growth factor-β family and involved in various biological processes including inflammation, cell cycle, and apoptosis. However, more research is suggesting a role in fibrosis, hypertrophy, and endothelial dysfunction. As GDF15 is a pleiotropic protein, elucidating the exact role of GDF15 in complex disease processes has proven to be a challenge. In this review, we provide an overview of the role GDF15 plays in various intracellular and extracellular processes underlying heart failure, and we touch upon crucial points that need consideration before GDF15 can be integrated as a biomarker in standard care or when considering GDF15 for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1488-1501
Number of pages14
JournalESC heart failure
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Adverse cardiac remodelling
  • Biomarker
  • Fibrosis
  • GDF-15
  • Hypertrophy


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