We report here that interleukin (IL)-13 protects BALB/c mice from myocarditis, whether induced by peptide immunization or by viral infection. In contrast to mild disease in IL-4 knockout (KO) BALB/c mice, IL-13 KO BALB/c mice developed severe coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3)-induced autoimmune myocarditis and myocarditogenic peptide-induced experimental autoimmune myocarditis. Such severe disease was characterized by increased cardiac inflammation, increased total intracardiac CD45+ leukocytes, elevated anti-cardiac myosin autoantibodies, and increased cardiac fibrosis. Echocardiography revealed that IL-13 KO mice developed severe dilated cardiomyopathy with impaired cardiac function and heart failure. Hearts of IL-13 KO mice had increased levels of the proinflammatory and profibrotic cytokines IL-1β, IL-18, interferon-γ, transforming growth factor-β1, and IL-4 as well as histamine. The hallmark of the disease in IL-13 KO mice was the up-regulation of T-cell responses. CD4+ T cells were increased in IL-13 KO hearts both proportionally and in absolute number. Splenic T cells from IL-13 KO mice were highly activated, and myosin stimulation additionally increased T-cell proliferation. CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T-cell numbers were decreased in the spleens of IL-13 KO mice. IL-13 deficiency led to decreased levels of alternatively activated CD206+ and CD204+ macrophages and increased levels of classically activated macrophages. IL-13 KO mice had increased caspase-1 activation, leading to increased production of both IL-1β and IL-18. Therefore, IL-13 protects against myocarditis by modulating monocyte/macrophage populations and by regulating their function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine