Objectives: This study was conducted to determine the frequency and significance of Coxsackie B virus-specific immunoglobulin-M (IgM) in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and compare them with the frequency in both unmatched and matched control subjects.
Background: The principal evidence supporting a pathoetiologic role for Coxsackie B viruses in human dilated cardiomyopathy is derived from retrospective serologic studies. These studies have evaluated patients with end-stage disease and have failed to recognize the importance of assessing both matched and unmatched control subjects.
Methods: In this prospective case-control study, we assessed sera for Coxsackie B virus-specific IgM (serotypes B1 to B5) from 114 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy at diagnosis or referral to our center, 94 healthy unmatched control subjects, 41 healthy matched control subjects from the same general practitioner and 32 members of the patients' own households.
Results: A higher frequency of positive Coxsackie B virus IgM was observed in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy than in unmatched control subjects (33% vs. 5%; p = 3 x 10(-7)). In patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, the response was monotypic (84%), commonly against serotypes B2 and B5, and was not associated with any clinical or histologic feature. The frequency of positive virus-specific IgM was similar in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy and their 41 matched community control subjects (46% vs. 27%; p = 0.11) and 32 household contacts (37% vs. 28%; p = 0.59). Control subjects who tested positive for virus-specific IgM tended more commonly to be seropositive than did control seronegative subjects (community control subjects 37% vs. 18%, p = 0.32; household contacts 42% vs. 20%; p = 0.36) and had an identical serotypic response in 4 (33%) of 12 cases.
Conclusions: The frequency of Coxsackie B virus IgM was higher in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy than in unmatched control subjects but was similar in patients and control subjects who shared the same environment, indicating local spread of infection. The reason for the association between Coxsackie B virus IgM and dilated cardiomyopathy and its relevance to pathogenesis remain to be established.