Interdisciplinary Research Reveals Therapeutic Approach for Myocarditis

St.Gallen/Zurich – Researchers at the Cantonal Hospital St.Gallen and the University Hospital Zurich have discovered a previously unknown control mechanism for inflammation of the heart muscle. This could lead to the development of a new immunotherapeutic treatment.

Researchers at the Cantonal Hospital of St.Gallen and the University Hospital Zurich have found an approach for a new immunotherapeutic treatment option for myocarditis. "Myocarditis occurs in 20 to 30 out of 100,000 people and can lead to sudden cardiac death in younger people," said Burkhard Ludewig, Head of the Medical Research Center at the Cantonal Hospital of St.Gallen and Head of Translational Cardioimmunology at the Department of Cardiology at the University Hospital of Zurich, in a press release issued by the cantonal hospital. "The treatment options for myocarditis are currently limited, as the mechanisms that control the interaction of the cells in the heart muscle are not yet sufficiently understood."

The researchers have now discovered one of these mechanisms. High-resolution molecular analyses of cells of inflamed heart muscle tissue have shown that the cellular balance in the heart muscle is controlled by certain messenger substances. In the case of inflammation of the heart muscle, the researchers registered a decrease in the concentration of the messenger substance BMP4.

The BMP inhibitors Gremlin-1 and Gremlin-2 are responsible for this. The use of an immunotherapeutic antibody against the Gremlin molecules made it possible to restore the balance of the heart muscle cells, according to the press release. In the animal model, the pathological remodeling of the heart tissue was also blocked. Researchers from the University of Bern, the Medical University of Graz and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville were also involved in the interdisciplinary study. ce/hs

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