A novel experimental model of giant cell myocarditis induced in rats by immunization with cardiac myosin fraction

Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1990 Nov;57(2):250-62. doi: 10.1016/0090-1229(90)90039-s.


It is suspected that autoimmune disease processes are involved in the pathogenesis of a part of giant cell myocarditis. However, evidence for autoimmunity has rarely been demonstrated in clinical investigations. In this study, we have demonstrated a new animal model of autoimmune myocarditis characterized by the appearance of multinucleated giant cells. Lewis rats were immunized twice with human cardiac myosin fraction in complete Freund's adjuvant. Cardiac myosin fraction was prepared from the ventricular muscle of human hearts. Three weeks after the first immunization, acute and severe myocarditis was elicited in all rats. This myocarditis was characterized by massive pericardial effusion, enlargement of the heart, and gray discoloration of the cardiac muscle. Microscopically, there was marked cellular infiltration consisting of mononuclear cells, neutrophils, fibroblasts, and a considerable number of multinucleated giant cells. Extensive myocardial necrosis was also present. The heart weights increased from the third week to the fourth week and then gradually decreased. The titer of anti-myosin antibodies began to elevate from the second week and remained high until the sixth week. In the sixth week, inflammation became smoldering and the multinucleated giant cells disappeared. These findings indicate that the cardiac myosin fraction contains myocarditogenic antigen and that giant cell myocarditis can be induced by autoimmune involvement. To our knowledge, this is the first report of experimental giant cell myocarditis, which is closely similar to human giant cell myocarditis in its histology and clinical course.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Antigens / administration & dosage
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Mice
  • Myocarditis / etiology*
  • Myocarditis / immunology
  • Myocarditis / pathology
  • Myocardium / chemistry*
  • Myosins / analysis*
  • Myosins / immunology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew / immunology*
  • Species Specificity


  • Antibodies
  • Antigens
  • Myosins