Background - Autoimmunity to cardiac antigens, in particular cardiac myosin, has been observed in humans with myocarditis and in animals with experimental inflammatory heart disease. Current treatments for myocarditis are in many cases immunosuppressive and might lead to increased cardiac damage by reducing host defenses against infectious agents. Therefore, we sought to develop an antigen-specific approach to inhibit autoimmunity in mice with myosin-induced experimental autoimmune myocarditis. Methods and Results - Syngeneic splenocytes, coupled with cardiac myosin by use of ethylene carbodiimide, were administered intravenously before disease induction, and the effects of this peripheral tolerization on myosin-induced myocarditis were assessed. This antigen-specific immunotherapy significantly reduced both the incidence and severity of myocarditis, with the prevention of myocyte necrosis, mononuclear cell infiltration, and fibrosis. Myosin-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity and antibody production were significantly reduced, demonstrating that peripheral tolerance affected both T- and B-cell responsiveness to the autoantigen. Conclusions - These results suggest that the induction of antigen-specific peripheral immune tolerance may be an effective approach for the treatment of myocarditides with autoimmune involvement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)