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Eur Heart J. 2011 Sep;32(17):2168-78. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq467. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

Mesenchymal stem cells improve murine acute coxsackievirus B3-induced myocarditis.

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  • 1Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies, Charité-University Medicine Berlin, Campus Virchow, Berlin, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Eur Heart J. 2013 Feb;34(8):604.



Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3)-induced myocarditis, initially considered a sole immune-mediated disease, also results from a direct CVB3-mediated injury of the cardiomyocytes. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have, besides immunomodulatory, also anti-apoptotic features. In view of clinical translation, we first analysed whether MSCs can be infected by CVB3. Next, we explored whether and how MSCs could reduce the direct CVB3-mediated cardiomyocyte injury and viral progeny release, in vitro, in the absence of immune cells. Finally, we investigated whether MSC application could improve murine acute CVB3-induced myocarditis.


Phase contrast pictures and MTS viability assay demonstrated that MSCs did not suffer from CVB3 infection 4-12-24-48 h after CVB3 infection. Coxsackievirus B3 RNA copy number decreased in this time frame, suggesting that no CVB3 replication took place. Co-culture of MSCs with CVB3-infected HL-1 cardiomyocytes resulted in a reduction of CVB3-induced HL-1 apoptosis, oxidative stress, intracellular viral particle production, and viral progeny release in a nitric oxide (NO)-dependent manner. Moreover, MSCs required priming via interferon-γ (IFN-γ) to exert their protective effects. In vivo, MSC application improved the contractility and relaxation parameters in CVB3-induced myocarditis, which was paralleled with a reduction in cardiac apoptosis, cardiomyocyte damage, left ventricular tumour necrosis factor-α mRNA expression, and cardiac mononuclear cell activation. Mesenchymal stem cells reduced the CVB3-induced CD4- and CD8- T cell activation in an NO-dependent way and required IFN-γ priming.


We conclude that MSCs improve murine acute CVB3-induced myocarditis via their anti-apoptotic and immunomodulatory properties, which occur in an NO-dependent manner and require priming via IFN-γ.

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