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Autoimmun Rev. 2004 Nov;3(7-8):476-86.

Autoimmune myocarditis: cellular mediators of cardiac dysfunction.

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Cardiovascular Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada.


Immune mediators play a critical role in the pathogenesis and outcomes of a number of cardiac diseases. This review summarizes recent findings on the composition of the inflammatory infiltrate and the role of different types and subtypes of immune cells and their products in mediating cardiac dysfunction in experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM). CD4+ T cells are required for initiation of myocarditis and their numbers in the heart infiltrate correlate with systolic dysfunction during disease progression. Other immune cells, including CD8+ T cells, granulocytes, and mast cells, can directly affect cardiomyocyte function. When regulatory mechanisms fail, the local damage leads to cardiomyocyte death, replacement fibrosis and overall cardiac dysfunction. EAM provides insights into the role of the immune system in the development of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and heart failure and may serve as a general paradigm for autoimmune organ-specific tissue damage.

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