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Nat Rev Cardiol. 2014 Jan;11(1):35-50. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2013.174. Epub 2013 Nov 19.

Mechanisms of infective endocarditis: pathogen-host interaction and risk states.

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Heart Centre of the University Clinics Halle (Saale), Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Ernst-Grube-Strasse 40, D-06120 Halle (Saale), Germany.
Institute of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital of Münster, Westphalian Wilhelms-University Münster, Domagkstrasse 10, D-48149 Münster, Germany.


Patients with infective endocarditis (IE) form a heterogeneous group, ranging from those who are successfully treated with no adverse events, to those with severe complications and a high mortality. In this Review, we highlight pathogen-host interactions and the mechanisms underlying various risk factors for patients with IE. A temporal trend in the pattern of IE has been observed in high-income countries within the past 5 decades, with patients contracting IE at an increasingly old age, and a growing incidence of health-care-associated staphylococcal IE. Consequently, prevention strategies should no longer focus on prophylaxis of streptococcal bacteraemia during dental procedures, but instead encourage a more-general approach to reduce the incidence of health-care-associated IE. Much knowledge has been gained about the mechanisms of vegetation formation, growth, and embolization on damaged or inflamed cardiac valves, and on cardiac devices. Improved understanding of these mechanisms will help to combat the increasing problem of antimicrobial resistance. Two mechanisms of IE should increasingly be the focus of future research: the role of immunosenescence in elderly patients with IE, particularly after transcatheter aortic valve implantation, and the mechanisms that trigger septic shock, a condition that leads to a substantial increase in the risk of death in patients with IE.

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