Immunosuppressive treatment of chronic non-viral myocarditis.

A. Frustaci, M. Pieroni, C. Chimenti

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Inflammatory cardiomyopathy defined as myocarditis associated with cardiac dysfunction, represents a main cause of heart failure. Despite the improvement of diagnostic techniques, a specific standardized treatment of myocarditis is not yet available. The immunohistochemical detection of myocardial HLA up-regulation has been demonstrated useful in the identification of a sub-group of autoimmune inflammatory dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in part susceptible to immunosuppression. Recently, in a retrospective study, we defined the virologic and immunologic profile of responders and non-responders to immunosuppressive therapy of active lymphocytic myocarditis and chronic heart failure in patients who had failed to benefit from conventional supportive treatment. Non-responders were characterized by high prevalence (85%) of viral genomes in the myocardium and no detectable cardiac autoantibodies in the serum. Conversely, 90% of responders were positive for autoantibodies, while only 3 (15%) of them presented viral particles at PCR analysis on frozen endomyocardial tissue. With regard to the type of virus involved in non-responders, enterovirus, adenovirus, or their combination was associated with the worst clinical outcome. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) was the only viral agent of our series associated with detectable cardiac autoantibodies, suggesting a relevant immunomediated mechanism of damage by HCV and explaining the relief of myocardial inflammation after immunosuppressive treatment. The assessment of virologic and immunologic features of patients with biopsy-proven inflammatory cardiomyopathy may allow us to identify a specific treatment leading to recovery of cardiac function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-351
Number of pages9
JournalErnst Schering Research Foundation workshop
Issue number55
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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