Objectives: This study was designed to document the association of endocardial fibroelastosis (EFE) and maternal autoantibodies.
Background: Neonatal lupus erythematosus is associated with the transplacental passage of maternal anti-Ro and anti-La antibodies, leading to complete atrioventricular block (CAVB). In some cases, CAVB is associated with EFE. Isolated EFE may be independently related to maternal anti-Ro and anti-La antibodies.
Methods: We identified three cases (one fetus and two infants, all female) of isolated EFE in infants born to autoantibody-positive mothers in the absence of CAVB. Demographics, echocardiograms, and pathology were reviewed. Immunohistochemical analyses for immunoglobulin (Ig)G, IgM, IgA, T-cell, B-cell, and terminal deoxynucleoleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end-labeling (TUNEL) (test for cell apoptosis) staining were performed on multiple sections of the heart in each case and compared with negative controls.
Results: Two cases died and one received a cardiac transplant. All three cases had histologically confirmed EFE. All cases demonstrated significant diffuse IgG infiltration. To a lesser extent, myocardial tissue was also positive for IgM, CD43, and Granzyme B. None of the specimens were TUNEL positive.
Conclusions: These are the first reported cases of isolated EFE associated with maternal anti-Ro and anti-La antibodies in the absence of CAVB. The diffuse deposition of IgG and the presence of a T-cell infiltrate throughout the myocardium suggest that the transplacental passage of maternal autoantibodies induces an immune reaction within the myocardium, leading to isolated EFE. Autoantibody-mediated EFE may be an etiologic factor in cases of fetal and neonatal "idiopathic" dilated cardiomyopathy.