American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology

Involvement of NLRP3 inflammasome in CVB3-induced viral myocarditis.

PMID 25260607


Viral myocarditis, which is most prevalently caused by coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) infection, is a serious clinical condition characterized by cardiac inflammation. Inflammasome plays an essential role in the regulation of diverse inflammatory responses by serving as a platform for caspase-1 activation and caspase-1-dependent proteolytic maturation and secretion of IL-1β. Although inflammasome has been reported to be crucial for the development of many inflammatory diseases, its role in the pathogenesis of viral myocarditis is still elusive. The present study aims to investigate whether CVB3 infection activates inflammasome and whether the activation of inflammasome contributes to CVB3-induced myocarditis. Our results showed that CVB3 infection induced inflammasome activation both in vitro and in vivo. With the inhibition of inflammasome activation, the severity of CVB3-induced myocarditis was significantly alleviated as evidenced by less weight loss, decreased serological indexes of creatine kinase and creatinekinase-MB activities, as well as less severe myocardial injury. Of importance, echocardiography results showed that inhibition of inflammasome activation also efficiently improved cardiac function as revealed by enhanced left ventricular ejection fraction and left ventricular fractional shortening. Despite that CVB3 infection significantly increased the expression of both retinoic acid-inducible gene 1 and NOD-like receptor family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) in cardiac myocytes, CVB3-induced inflammasome activation was NLRP3-, but not retinoic acid-inducible gene 1, dependent. Further study showed that reactive oxygen species production and K(+) efflux were critical for the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome upon CVB3 infection. Collectively, our study demonstrated a crucial role of the NLRP3 inflammasome in the pathogenesis of CVB3-induced myocarditis, and modulation of inflammasome activation might represent a promising therapeutic strategy for viral myocarditis.