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Background: The pathogenesis of myocarditis that occurs in Trypanosoma cruzi-infected mice is still poorly understood. Therefore, it is important to know the mediators that trigger leukocyte migration to the heart as well as the cellular source of these possible mediators. In this study, we investigated (1) NO synthase (NOS) induction, (2) NO synthesis, (3) trypanocidal activity, and (4) chemokine and cytokine mRNA expression by isolated cardiomyocytes infected with T cruzi.

Methods and Results: Mouse cardiomyocytes were isolated, infected with T cruzi, and evaluated for induction of inducible NOS (iNOS), nitrite production, trypanocidal activity, and cytokine and chemokine mRNA expression. We found that T cruzi-infected murine embryonic cardiomyocytes produced nitrite and expressed mRNAs for the chemokines chemokine growth-related oncogene, monokine induced by interferon-[gamma], macrophage inflammatory protein-2, interferon-[gamma]-inducible protein, RANTES, and monocyte chemotactic protein, for iNOS, and for the cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-[alpha] and interleukin (IL)-1[beta]. Separate addition of IL-1[beta], interferon-[gamma], TNF-[alpha] or monocyte chemotactic protein, macrophage inflammatory protein-2, and interferon-[gamma]-inducible protein, to cultured cardiomyocytes resulted in NO production but low trypanocidal activity. However, simultaneous addition of IL-1[beta], interferon-[gamma], and TNF-[alpha] or the chemokines to cultures resulted in the induction of iNOS, high levels of nitrite, and a marked trypanocidal activity. The iNOS/l-arginine pathway mediated the latter activity, inasmuch as it was inhibited by treatment with NG-monomethyl-l-arginine.

Conclusions: These results indicate that iNOS activation and the proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines produced by cardiomyocytes are likely to control parasite growth and cell influx, thus contributing to the pathogenesis of chagasic cardiomyopathy seen in T cruzi-infected mice.

(C) 2000 American Heart Association, Inc.