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J Cardiovasc Med (Hagerstown). 2008 Jul;9(7):666-71. doi: 10.2459/JCM.0b013e3282f3e9c2.

Myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy: possible connections and treatments.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.


Myocarditis is an inflammatory heart muscle disease, resulting from various etiologies, both noninfectious and infectious, which may be associated or not with cardiac dysfunction. Its course is unpredictable: it may spontaneously resolve or evolve into dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure. A possible connection between myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy has long been postulated, but the intimate mechanisms linking these two conditions are still poorly understood. Viral myocarditis could induce a dilated cardiomyopathy through viral persistence and/or by triggering an autoimmune process. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the relationship between myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy will help in identifying an effective strategy of treatment aimed to stop and prevent cardiac damage. Specifically, we need to (a) evaluate the potential role of autoantibodies in disease prevention and progression, and understand their importance as markers of disease progression; (b) clarify the role of immunoregulation in exacerbating the disease.

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