Effect of Verapamil on the Development of Chronic Experimental Chagas' Disease

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  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, Bronx, New York

In previous work, we have shown that the chronic administration of verapamil, a calcium channel blocker, ameliorated the mortality, pathology, and biochemical alterations associated with acute murine Chagas' disease. To extend these studies to an established chronic model, C3H/Hej mice were infected with the Sylvio X10/4 clone. This clone does not cause symptomatic acute disease but does induce cardiac pathology incorporating several pathological features of human chagasic cardiomyopathy. Cardiac pathology was assessed at 60, 90, and 180 days postinfection. There was a significant decrease in the degree of inflammation and fibrosis in the group infected and treated with verapamil. Myocardial β-adrenergic adenylate cyclase (AC) activity was determined 180 days postinfection. In the infected group not treated with verapamil, there was no significant change in the maximum rate of conversion of ATP to cAMP (Vmax) or in the concentration of agonist giving 50% of Vmax (apparent Kact) for isoproterenol (ISPN)-dependent AC activation. The increase in Vmax for ISPN determined in the presence of 5′-guanylylimidodiphosphate (Gpp[NH]p) was consistently lower in infected than in uninfected mice, suggesting that infection altered the potential synergistic activation of AC by the guanine nucleotide. In the infected group treated with verapamil, there was a slight increase in the Vmax for ISPN. However, there was a marked enhancement of the synergistic contribution of Gpp(NH)p. These observations suggest that verapamil had preserved that aspect of the AC complex mediating guanine nucleotide sensitive activation of AC. Collectively, the observations in the acute and chronic models of murine Chagas' disease suggest that verapamil may be a useful adjunct in treatment.