In human myocarditis and its sequela dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), the mechanisms and immune phenotype governing disease and subsequent heart failure are not known. Here, we identified a Th17 cell immunophenotype of human myocarditis/DCM with elevated CD4+IL17+ T cells and Th17-promoting cytokines IL-6, TGF-β, and IL-23 as well as GM-CSF–secreting CD4+ T cells. The Th17 phenotype was linked with the effects of cardiac myosin on CD14+ monocytes, TLR2, and heart failure. Persistent heart failure was associated with high percentages of IL-17–producing T cells and IL-17–promoting cytokines, and the myocarditis/DCM phenotype included significantly low percentages of FOXP3+ Tregs, which may contribute to disease severity. We demonstrate a potentially novel mechanism in human myocarditis/DCM in which TLR2 peptide ligands from human cardiac myosin stimulated exaggerated Th17-related cytokines including TGF-β, IL-6, and IL-23 from myocarditic CD14+ monocytes in vitro, and an anti-TLR2 antibody abrogated the cytokine response. Our translational study explains how an immune phenotype may be initiated by cardiac myosin TLR ligand stimulation of monocytes to generate Th17-promoting cytokines and development of pathogenic Th17 cells in human myocarditis and heart failure, and provides a rationale for targeting IL-17A as a therapeutic option.
Jennifer M. Myers, Leslie T. Cooper, David C. Kem, Stavros Stavrakis, Stanley D. Kosanke, Ethan M. Shevach, DeLisa Fairweather, Julie A. Stoner, Carol J. Cox, Madeleine W. Cunningham
Th17 immunophenotype contributes to myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).