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Cell Immunol. 1984 Sep;87(2):462-72.

Aggravation of coxsackievirus, group B, type 3-induced myocarditis and increase in cellular immunity to myocyte antigens in pregnant Balb/c mice and animals treated with progesterone.


Male Balb/c mice inoculated with a heart-adapted variant of coxsackievirus, group B, type 3 (CVB3M) develop severe myocarditis characterized by extensive focal lesions of inflammatory cells and necrosis of the myocardium. Females generally develop minimal myocarditis except when infected during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. Enhanced myocarditis is usually accompanied by elevations in virus concentrations in the heart, virus-specific antibody titers, and lymphocyte mediated cytolytic activity to both uninfected and CVB3M-infected myocytes in vitro. As previously shown in males, T-lymphocyte-depleted pregnant female mice inoculated with the virus do not develop significant myocarditis indicating that immune rather than virus-mediated myocyte damage is important in myocarditis. Progesterone increases during gestation reaching maximum concentrations during the third week when heart disease is most severe. Administration of progesterone to castrated male and female mice prior to virus inoculation resulted in increased virus concentrations, cellular and humoral CVB3M-specific immunity, and myocarditis. Two hypotheses for exacerbation of the disease with elevated progesterone concentrations have been postulated: the hormone either indirectly increases cellular immune responses by enhancing virus replication, or independently enhances both T-cell responses and virus replication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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