Absence of IL-6 results in increased autoimmune myocarditis severity following coxsackievirus infection

Myocarditis is a disease that results in inflammation of heart muscle. Myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged, are believed to be continuing stages of an autoimmune disease of the heart. This condition can progress to a stage that requires heart transplantation. Myocarditis is often brought on by a viral infection. In humans, coxsackie B viruses (CBV) are the most frequent cause of viral-induced myocarditis. It is estimated that 30 per cent of new DCM cases in North America are the result of CBV infection. Maya Poffenberger’s research aims to determine the specific immune components that control myocarditis disease severity following viral infection. She is studying cells and molecules that control immune cells. Using mouse models that lack certain immune genes, Poffenberger will be able to identify the genes that influence the induction and severity of myocarditis from CBV infection. With knowledge of how myocarditis is induced and controlled, researchers will be able to develop better disease specific therapies that target immune genes important to disease induction and severity.