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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2001 May;20(5):534-43.

Comparative histopathology of endomyocardial biopsies in chagasic and non-chagasic heart transplant recipients.

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Departamento de Patologia, Escola Paulista de Medicina, UNIFESP, São Paulo, Brazil.



Heart transplantation has been an option for the treatment of chagasic (C) cardiomyopathy despite difficulties concerning the control of rejection and reactivation. The parasite-host interaction under the influence of immunosuppressive therapy may affect the immunological response to the graft in a pattern different from that in non-chagasic (NC) patients. The aim of this study was to compare the major histopathological features in heart transplantation in C and NC patients.


We studied 293 endomyocardial biopsies from two groups of heart transplanted patients, including 18 C and 15 NC. Both groups had identical surgical and clinical procedure except immunosuppressive therapy was lower in C patients. The histopathological parameters evaluated were the Quilty effect, rejection, C myocarditis reactivation, fibrosis, hypertrophy, and ischemia. In addition, lymphocytic cellular infiltration of myocarditis due to rejection or reactivation was immunophenotyped in the biopsies of both groups with rejection grades 3 to 4, in biopsies with signs of reactivation, and in fragments of the receptor heart with chronic C myocarditis. A search for Trypanosoma cruzi was performed in all biopsies in the C group in which lymphocyte immunophenotyping was done. We used immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy.


The Quilty effect was present in 23% of the biopsies, involving 69.7% of the patients without a significant difference between groups (p = 0.509). Rejection was frequently observed in biopsies with the Quilty effect and the effect often recurred in the same patient. Rejection grades 3 to 4 was more frequent in the C group (p = 0.023). There were 5 episodes of Chagas' disease reactivation with myocarditis in 2 cases. The mean numbers of CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, and the CD4+-to-CD8+ ratio were similar for rejection in both groups (p > 0.05), while the CD4+-to-CD8+ ratio was significantly lower in chronic C myocarditis compared to rejection in the C group (p = 0.043). There was no significant difference in ischemic damage or interstitial fibrosis in the groups but there was a higher frequency of hypertrophy in the NC group (p = 0.007).


The histopathological features of heart transplantation in C patients did not differ from that in NC patients in regard to the Quilty effect, development of myocardial fibrosis and ischemia. However, the higher involvement of the C group for rejection grades 3 to 4 suggested higher susceptibility to this event. The similarity of the lymphocytic cellular composition for rejection in both groups indicates that C patients respond to immunological stimulus in a similar pattern as NC patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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