Liver-Specific siRNA-Mediated Stat3 or C3 Knockdown Improves the Outcome of Experimental Autoimmune Myocarditis.
ABSTRACT: Myocarditis can lead to autoimmune disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, and heart failure, which is modeled in the mouse by cardiac myosin immunization (experimental autoimmune myocarditis [EAM]). Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) systemic inhibition exerts both preventive and therapeutic effects in EAM, and STAT3 constitutive activation elicits immune-mediated myocarditis dependent on complement C3 and correlating with activation of the STAT3-interleukin 6 (IL-6) axis in the liver. Thus, liver-specific STAT3 inhibition may represent a therapeutic option, allowing to bypass the heart toxicity, predicted by systemic STAT3 inhibition. We therefore decided to explore the effectiveness of silencing liver Stat3 and C3 in preventing EAM onset and/or the recovery of cardiac functions. We first show that complement C3 and C5 genetic depletion significantly prevents the onset of spontaneous myocarditis, supporting the complement cascade as a viable target. In order to interfere with complement production and STAT3 activity specifically in the liver, we took advantage of liver-specific Stat3 or C3 small interfering (si)RNA nanoparticles, demonstrating that both siRNAs can significantly prevent myocarditis onset and improve the recovery of heart functions in EAM. Our data demonstrate that liver-specific Stat3/C3 siRNAs may represent a therapeutic option for autoimmune myocarditis and suggest that complement levels and activation might be predictive of progression to dilated cardiomyopathy.
Project description:Myocarditis, often triggered by viral infection, may lead to heart auto-immunity and dilated cardiomyopathy. What determines the switch between disease resolution and progression is however incompletely understood. We show that pharmacological inhibition of STAT3, the main mediator of IL-6 signalling and of Th17-cell differentiation, protects mice from the development of Experimental Auto-immune Myocarditis reducing liver production of the complement component C3, and can act therapeutically when administered at disease peak. Further, we demonstrate that STAT3 is sufficient when constitutively active for triggering the onset of immune-mediated myocarditis, involving enhanced complement C3 production and IL-6 signalling amplification in the liver. Disease development can be prevented by C3 depletion and IL-6 receptor neutralization. This appears to be relevant to disease pathogenesis in humans, since acute myocarditis patients display significantly elevated circulating IL-6 and C3 levels and activated heart STAT3. Thus, aberrant IL-6/STAT3-mediated induction of liver acute phase response genes including C3, which occurs as a consequence of pre-existing inflammatory conditions, might represent an important factor determining the degree of myocarditis and its clinical outcome.
Project description:Myocarditis is an inflammatory and autoimmune cardiovascular disease that causes dilated myocardiopathy and is responsible for high morbidity and mortality worldwide. Cortistatin is a neuropeptide produced by neurons and cells of the immune and vascular systems. Besides its action in locomotor activity and sleep, cortistatin inhibits inflammation in different experimental models of autoimmune diseases. However, its role in inflammatory cardiovascular disorders is unexplored. Here, we investigated the therapeutic effects of cortistatin in a well-established preclinical model of experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM).We induced EAM by immunization with a fragment of cardiac myosin in susceptible Balb/c mice. Cortistatin was administered i.p. starting 7, 11 or 15 days after EAM induction. At day 21, we evaluated heart hypertrophy, myocardial injury, cardiac inflammatory infiltration and levels of serum and cardiac inflammatory cytokines, cortistatin and autoantibodies. We determined proliferation and cytokine production by heart draining lymph node cells in response to cardiac myosin restimulation.Systemic injection of cortistatin during the effector phase of the disease significantly reduced its prevalence and signs of heart hypertrophy and injury (decreased the levels of brain natriuretic peptide) and impaired myocardial inflammatory cell infiltration. This effect was accompanied by a reduction in self-antigen-specific T-cell responses in lymph nodes and in the levels of cardiomyogenic antibodies and inflammatory cytokines in serum and myocardium. Finally, we found a positive correlation between cardiac and systemic cortistatin levels and EAM severity.Cortistatin emerges as a new candidate to treat inflammatory dilated cardiomyopathy.
Project description:Heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy is frequently caused by myocarditis. However, the pathogenesis of myocarditis remains incompletely understood. Here, we report the presence of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in cardiac tissue of patients and mice with myocarditis. Inhibition of NET formation in experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) of mice substantially reduces inflammation in the acute phase of the disease. Targeting the cytokine midkine (MK), which mediates NET formation in vitro, not only attenuates NET formation in vivo and the infiltration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) but also reduces fibrosis and preserves systolic function during EAM. Low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) acts as the functionally relevant receptor for MK-induced PMN recruitment as well as NET formation. In summary, NETosis substantially contributes to the pathogenesis of myocarditis and drives cardiac inflammation, probably via MK, which promotes PMN trafficking and NETosis. Thus, MK as well as NETs may represent novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of cardiac inflammation.
Project description:CD4(+) T cells play a central role in inflammatory heart disease, implicating a cytokine product associated with Th cell effector function as a necessary mediator of this pathophysiology. IFN-?-deficient mice developed severe experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM), in which mice are immunized with cardiac myosin peptide, whereas IL-17A-deficient mice were protected from progression to dilated cardiomyopathy. We generated IFN-?(-/-)IL-17A(-/-) mice to assess whether IL-17 signaling was responsible for the severe EAM of IFN-?(-/-) mice. Surprisingly, IFN-?(-/-)IL-17A(-/-) mice developed a rapidly fatal EAM. Eosinophils constituted a third of infiltrating leukocytes, qualifying this disease as eosinophilic myocarditis. We found increased cardiac production of CCL11/eotaxin, as well as Th2 deviation, among heart-infiltrating CD4(+) cells. Ablation of eosinophil development improved survival of IFN-?(-/-)IL-17A(-/-) mice, demonstrating the necessity of eosinophils in fatal heart failure. The severe and rapidly fatal autoimmune inflammation that developed in the combined absence of IFN-? and IL-17A constitutes a novel model of eosinophilic heart disease in humans. This is also, to our knowledge, the first demonstration that eosinophils have the capacity to act as necessary mediators of morbidity in an autoimmune process.
Project description:Mammalian cardiomyocytes substantially lose proliferative capacity immediately after birth, limiting adult heart regeneration after injury. However, clinical myocarditis appears to be self-limiting with tissue-reparative properties. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying the recovery from myocarditis with regard to cardiomyocyte proliferation using an experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) model. Three weeks after EAM induction (EAM3w), cardiac tissue displayed infiltration of inflammatory cells with cardiomyocyte apoptosis. However, by EAM5w, the myocardial damage was remarkably attenuated, associated with an increase in cardiomyocytes that were positively stained with cell cycle markers at EAM3w. Cardiomyocyte fate mapping study revealed that the proliferating cardiomyocytes primarily derived from pre-existing cardiomyocytes. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) was robustly activated in cardiomyocytes during inflammation, accompanied by induction of interleukin-6 family cytokines. Cardiomyocyte-specific ablation of STAT3 gene suppressed the frequency of cycling cardiomyocytes in the recovery period without influencing inflammatory status, resulting in impaired tissue repair and cardiac dysfunction. Finally, microarray analysis revealed that the expression of regeneration-related genes, metallothioneins and clusterin, in cardiomyocytes was decreased by STAT3 gene deletion. These data show that adult mammalian cardiomyocytes restore regenerative capacity with cell cycle reentry through STAT3 as the heart recovers from myocarditis-induced cardiac damage.
Project description:Autoimmune myocarditis often leads to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Although T cell reactivity to cardiac self-antigen is common in the disease, it is unknown which antigen presenting cell (APC) triggers autoimmunity. Experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) was induced by immunizing mice with ?-myosin loaded bone marrow APCs cultured in GM-CSF. APCs found in such cultures include conventional type 2 CD11b+ cDCs (GM-cDC2s) and monocyte-derived cells (GM-MCs). However, only ?-myosin loaded GM-cDC2s could induce EAM. We also studied antigen presenting capacity of endogenous type 1 CD24+ cDCs (cDC1s), cDC2s, and MCs for ?-myosin-specific TCR-transgenic TCR-M CD4+ T cells. After EAM induction, all cardiac APCs significantly increased and cDCs migrated to the heart-draining mediastinal lymph node (LN). Primarily cDC2s presented ?-myosin to TCR-M cells and induced Th1/Th17 differentiation. Loss of IRF4 in Irf4 fl/fl .Cd11cCre mice reduced MHCII expression on GM-cDC2s in vitro and cDC2 migration in vivo. However, partly defective cDC2 functions in Irf4 fl/fl .Cd11cCre mice did not suppress EAM. MCs were the largest APC subset in the inflamed heart and produced pro-inflammatory cytokines. Targeting APC populations could be exploited in the design of new therapies for cardiac autoimmunity.
Project description:Inflammatory dilated cardiomyopathy (DCMi) is a major cause of heart failure in children and young adults. DCMi develops in up to 30% of myocarditis patients, but the mechanisms involved in disease progression are poorly understood. Patients with eosinophilia frequently develop cardiomyopathies. In this study, we used the experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) model to determine the role of eosinophils in myocarditis and DCMi. Eosinophils were dispensable for myocarditis induction but were required for progression to DCMi. Eosinophil-deficient ?dblGATA1 mice, in contrast to WT mice, showed no signs of heart failure by echocardiography. Induction of EAM in hypereosinophilic IL-5Tg mice resulted in eosinophilic myocarditis with severe ventricular and atrial inflammation, which progressed to severe DCMi. This was not a direct effect of IL-5, as IL-5Tg?dblGATA1 mice were protected from DCMi, whereas IL-5-/- mice exhibited DCMi comparable with WT mice. Eosinophils drove progression to DCMi through their production of IL-4. Our experiments showed eosinophils were the major IL-4-expressing cell type in the heart during EAM, IL-4-/- mice were protected from DCMi like ?dblGATA1 mice, and eosinophil-specific IL-4 deletion resulted in improved heart function. In conclusion, eosinophils drive progression of myocarditis to DCMi, cause severe DCMi when present in large numbers, and mediate this process through IL-4.
Project description:Experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) appears after infectious heart disease, the most common cause of dilated cardiomyopathy in humans. Here we report that mice lacking T-bet, a T-box transcription factor required for T helper (Th)1 cell differentiation and interferon (IFN)-gamma production, develop severe autoimmune heart disease compared to T-bet+/+ control mice. Experiments in T-bet-/- IL-4-/- and T-bet-/- IL-4Ralpha-/- mice, as well as transfer of heart-specific Th1 and Th2 cell lines, showed that autoimmune heart disease develops independently of Th1 or Th2 polarization. Analysis of T-bet-/- IL-12Rbeta1-/- and T-bet-/- IL-12p35-/- mice then identified interleukin (IL)-23 as critical for EAM pathogenesis. In addition, T-bet-/- mice showed a marked increase in production of the IL-23-dependent cytokine IL-17 by heart-infiltrating lymphocytes, and in vivo IL-17 depletion markedly reduced EAM severity in T-bet-/- mice. Heart-infiltrating T-bet-/- CD8+ but not CD8- T cells secrete IFN-gamma, which inhibits IL-17 production and protects against severe EAM. In contrast, T-bet-/- CD8+ lymphocytes completely lost their capacity to release IFN-gamma within the heart. Collectively, these data show that severe IL-17-mediated EAM can develop in the absence of T-bet, and that T-bet can regulate autoimmunity via the control of nonspecific CD8+ T cell bystander functions in the inflamed target organ.
Project description:Supernatants of serum-free cultured mononuclear cells (MNC) contain a mix of immunomodulating factors (secretome), which have been shown to attenuate detrimental inflammatory responses following myocardial ischaemia. Inflammatory dilated cardiomyopathy (iDCM) is a common cause of heart failure in young patients. Experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) is a CD4+ T cell-dependent model, which mirrors important pathogenic aspects of iDCM. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of MNC secretome on myocardial inflammation in the EAM model.BALB/c mice were immunized twice with an alpha myosin heavy chain peptide together with Complete Freund adjuvant. Supernatants from mouse mononuclear cells were collected, dialysed, and injected i.p. at Day 0, Day 7, or Day 14, respectively. Myocarditis severity, T cell responses, and autoantibody formation were assessed at Day 21. The impact of MNC secretome on CD4+ T cell function and viability was evaluated using in vitro proliferation and cell viability assays. A single high-dose application of MNC secretome, injected at Day 14 after the first immunization, effectively attenuated myocardial inflammation. Mechanistically, MNC secretome induced caspase-8-dependent apoptosis in autoreactive CD4+ T cells.MNC secretome abrogated myocardial inflammation in a CD4+ T cell-dependent animal model of autoimmune myocarditis. This anti-inflammatory effect of MNC secretome suggests a novel and simple potential treatment concept for inflammatory heart diseases.
Project description:Heart-specific CD4+ T cells have been implicated in development and progression of myocarditis in mice and in humans. Here, using mouse models of experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) we investigated the role of heart non-specific CD4+ T cells in the progression of the disease. Heart non-specific CD4+ T cells were obtained from DO11.10 mice expressing transgenic T cell receptor recognizing chicken ovalbumin. We found that heart infiltrating CD4+ T cells expressed exclusively effector (Teff) phenotype in the EAM model and in hearts of patients with lymphocytic myocarditis. Adoptive transfer experiments showed that while heart-specific Teff infiltrated the heart shortly after injection, heart non-specific Teff effectively accumulated during myocarditis and became the major heart-infiltrating CD4+ T cell subset at later stage. Restimulation of co-cultured heart-specific and heart non-specific CD4+ T cells with alpha-myosin heavy chain antigen showed mainly Th1/Th17 response for heart-specific Teff and up-regulation of a distinct set of extracellular signalling molecules in heart non-specific Teff. Adoptive transfer of heart non-specific Teff in mice with myocarditis did not affect inflammation severity at the peak of disease, but protected the heart from adverse post-inflammatory fibrotic remodelling and cardiac dysfunction at later stages of disease. Furthermore, mouse and human Teff stimulated in vitro with common gamma cytokines suppressed expression of profibrotic genes, reduced amount of ?-smooth muscle actin filaments and decreased contraction of cardiac fibroblasts. In this study, we provided a proof-of-concept that heart non-specific Teff cells could effectively contribute to myocarditis and protect the heart from the dilated cardiomyopathy outcome.