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Cardiovasc Res. 2019 Oct 9. pii: cvz259. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvz259. [Epub ahead of print]

Development of a New Mouse Model for Coxsackievirus-Induced Myocarditis by Attenuating Coxsackievirus B3 Virulence in the Pancreas.

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Department of Applied Biochemistry, Institute of Biotechnology, Technische Universität Berlin, Gustav-Meyer-Allee 25, Berlin, Germany.
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Institute of Biochemistry, Virchowweg 6, Berlin, Germany.
Berlin - Brandenburger Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT), Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Virchow Klinikum (CVK), Föhrer Str. 15, Berlin, Germany.
German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), Partner site Berlin - Charité, Oudenarder Straße 16, Berlin, Germany.
Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of the Helmholtz Center Munich at University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus and Faculty of Medicine, Technische Universität Dresden, Fetscherstraße 74, Dresden, Germany.
Institut Kardiale Diagnostik und Therapie (IKDT), Moltkestraße 31, Berlin, Germany.
Institute of Veterinary Pathology, Freie Universität Berlin, Kaiserswerther Str. 16-18, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Cardiology, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Virchow Klinikum (CVK), Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Medicine III, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; DZHK (German Centre for Cardiovascular Research), partner site Heidelberg/Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Cardiopathology, Institute for Pathology and Neuropathology, University Hospital Tuebingen, Liebermeisterstr. 8, Tübingen, Germany.



The coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) mouse myocarditis model is the standard model for investigation of virus-induced myocarditis, but the pancreas, rather than the heart, is the most susceptible organ in mouse. The aim of this study was to develop a CVB3 mouse myocarditis model in which animals develop myocarditis while attenuating viral infection of the pancreas and the development of severe pancreatitis.


We developed the recombinant CVB3 variant H3N-375TS by inserting target sites (TS) of miR-375, which is specifically expressed in the pancreas, into the 3'UTR of the genome of the pancreo- and cardiotropic CVB3 variant H3. In vitro evaluation showed that H3N-375TS was suppressed in pancreatic miR-375-expressing EndoC-βH1 cells more than 5 log10, whereas its replication was not suppressed in isolated primary embryonic mouse cardiomyocytes. In vivo, intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of H3N-375TS to NMRI mice did not result in pancreatic or cardiac infection. In contrast, intravenous (i.v.) administration of H3N-375TS to NMRI and Balb/C mice resulted in myocardial infection and acute and chronic myocarditis, whereas the virus was not detected in the pancreas and the pancreatic tissue was not damaged. Acute myocarditis was characterized by myocardial injury, inflammation with mononuclear cells, induction of proinflammatory cytokines and detection of replicating H3N-375TS in the heart. Mice with chronic myocarditis showed myocardial fibrosis and persistence of H3N-375TS genomic RNA, but no replicating virus in the heart. Moreover, H3N-375TS infected mice showed distinctly less suffering compared to mice that developed pancreatitis and myocarditis after i.p. or i.v application of control virus.


Here we demonstrate that by use of the miR-375-sensitive CVB3 variant H3N-375TS, CVB3 myocarditis can be established without the animals developing severe systemic infection and pancreatitis. As the H3N-375TS myocarditis model depends on pancreas-attenuated H3N-375TS, it can easily be used in different mouse strains and for various applications.


The use of H3N-375TS will allow the investigation of the pathogenesis of CVB3 myocarditis independently of severe systemic CVB3 infection and pancreatitis. It may also be a superior alternative for the study of new treatments in the post-viremia phase of CVB3-induced myocarditis.


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