Abstract 039: Natural Killer T Cells Play Protective Roles in Cardiovirus-Induced Myocarditis by Inducing Anti-Viral and Regulatory Cytokines
Picornavirus infections have been known as a leading cause of viral myocarditis in humans. Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) belongs to the genus Cardiovirus, the family Picornaviridae, and can cause myocarditis in susceptible mice. In viral myocarditis, viral replication in the heart and/or immune responses against virus as well as cardiac antigens (autoimmunity) can contribute to the pathogenesis. Natural killer T (NKT) cells can play a regulatory role in viral infections by producing anti-viral and anti-inflammatory cytokines; interferon (IFN)-γ can contribute to either viral clearance or tissue damage (immunopathology), while anti-inflammatory interleukin (IL)-10 has been suggested to regulate viral clearance or immunopathology. To determine the role of NKT cells in TMEV-induced myocarditis, we infected wild-type (WT) and NKT knockout (NKT KO, Jα18 KO) mice with TMEV. Myocarditis was monitored by echocardiography using the Vevo 770 system. During the acute (day 7) or chronic phase (day 60) of TMEV infection, cardiac pathology was evaluated by hematoxylin and eosin staining, and production of cytokines, including IFN-γ and IL-10, from spleen cells was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. During the acute phase, the levels of left ventricular ejection fraction were significantly lower in NKT KO mice than in WT mice. Immunologically, NKT KO mice had lower levels of IFN-γ production than WT mice [IFN-γ (pg/ml): WT, 768 ± 533; NKT KO, 293 ± 190]. During the chronic phase, high intensity cardiac lesions were observed by echocardiography in NKT KO mice, but not in WT mice. Histologically, NKT KO mice developed moderate inflammation with basophilic degeneration and calcification in the heart, while WT mice had only mild inflammation in the heart. Immunologically, NKT KO mice had lower levels of IL-10 production compared with WT mice [IL-10 (pg/ml): WT, 1771 ± 381; NKT KO, 1199 ± 160]. These results suggest that NKT cells play a protective role in viral myocarditis by producing IFN-γ and IL-10, which contribute to viral clearance during the acute phase and the suppression of immunopathology during the chronic phase of disease, respectively.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.