Viral infection of the myocardium in endocardial fibroelastosis. Molecular evidence for the role of mumps virus as an etiologic agent

Circulation. 1997 Jan 7;95(1):133-9. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.95.1.133.


Background: Endocardial fibroelastosis, previously a common disease of children, often resulted in congestive heart failure and death. Virus-induced myocarditis was the suspected first step in the pathogenesis of the disease, with enteroviruses and mumps virus considered potential causes. Direct evidence for their involvement was limited, however, and during the past two decades, a significant decline in the incidence of endocardial fibroelastosis occurred. Recently, we demonstrated polymerase chain reaction to be a rapid and sensitive method for identification of the viral genome in the myocardium of patients with myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy. The purpose of this study was to analyze myocardial samples of patients with endocardial fibroelastosis for the viral genome.

Methods and results: Myocardial samples from 29 patients with autopsy-proven endocardial fibroelastosis were analyzed for viral genome (enterovirus, adenovirus, mumps, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus, influenza, herpes simplex virus) by use of polymerase chain reaction or reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. In 90% of samples, the viral genome was amplified; > 70% of the samples were positive for mumps viral RNA, while 28% amplified adenovirus. In contrast, only 1 of 65 control samples amplified a virus (enterovirus). Two regions of mumps virus were amplified: the nucleocapsid gene and the polymerase-associated protein gene. Interestingly, only 3 of the 21 samples that were positive for mumps RNA were positive with both sets of primers, indicating that the persistence of mumps virus in the myocardium may be related to the selection of defective virus mutants.

Conclusions: These data suggest an etiologic role for viral infection in endocardial fibroelastosis, supporting the hypothesis that endocardial fibroelastosis is a sequela of a viral myocarditis, in particular of that due to mumps virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endocardial Fibroelastosis / virology*
  • Heart / virology*
  • Heart Failure / virology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mumps / complications*
  • Mumps virus / genetics
  • Mumps virus / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • RNA, Viral