The role of sensitized T-cells in myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy

Int J Cardiol. 1996 May;54(2):117-25. doi: 10.1016/0167-5273(96)02588-0.


Enteroviruses like coxsackie are known to cause myocarditis both in animals and humans and enteroviral genom was found in endomyocardial biopsies of patients with myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy. However, subsequent to the initial viral infection, immune mechanisms seem to play an important role in the pathogenesis of both diseases. Using synthetic peptides, it was possible to identify T-cell epitopes of coxsackie B3 virus and to test their significance in the pathogenesis of myocarditis in the animal model. The T-cell response against coxsackie virus and autoantigens like the adenine nucleotide translocator is also present in the human disease, since sensitized T-cells can be cultured from about 50% of endomyocardial biopsies of patients with myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy. The significance of the cellular immune responses in the human disease can be demonstrated by the transfer of peripheral blood leukocytes of patients with chronic myocarditis into severe combined immune deficiency mice that develop human cellular infiltrates of the myocardium and an impairment of the left ventricular function within 60 days. Thus, these results show the presence and importance of cellular immune responses in the pathogenesis of myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated* / immunology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated* / physiopathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coxsackievirus Infections / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enterovirus B, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Myocarditis* / immunology
  • Myocarditis* / physiopathology
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency* / pathology
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency* / physiopathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology


  • Autoantibodies