Dilated cardiomyopathy update: infectious-immune theory revisited
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- Kawai, C. & Matsumori, A. Heart Fail Rev (2013) 18: 703. doi:10.1007/s10741-013-9401-z
Dilated cardiomyopathy is characterized by dilatation of the left or right ventricle, or both ventricles. The degree of myocardial dysfunction is not attributable to abnormal loading conditions. The infectious-immune theory has long been hypothesized to explain the pathogenesis of many etiologically unrecognized dilated cardiomyopathies. Inflammations followed by immune reactions, which may be excessive, in the myocardium, evoked by external triggers such as viral infections and/or autoimmune antibodies, continue insidiously, and lead to the process of cardiac remodeling with ventricular dilatation and systolic dysfunction. This ultimately results in dilated cardiomyopathy. Hepatitis C virus-associated heart diseases are good examples of cardiac lesions definitely induced by viral infections in humans that progress to a chronic stage through complicated immune mechanisms. Therapeutic strategies for myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy have been obtained through analyses of the acute, subacute, and chronic phases of experimental viral myocarditis in mice. The appropriate modulation of excessive immune reactions during myocarditis, rather than their complete elimination, appears to be a key option in the prevention and treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy. The clinical application of an NF-κB decoy and immune adsorption of IgG3 cardiac autoantibodies have been used as immunomodulating therapies and may provide novel approaches for the treatment of refractory patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Conventional therapeutic agents for chronic heart failure such as β-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and aldosterone antagonists in particular should be re-evaluated on the basis of their anti-inflammatory properties in the treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy.