Expression of Major Histocompatibility Complex Antigens and Adhesion Molecules in Hearts of Patients with Chronic Chagas' Disease

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  • Departamento de Bioquimica e Imunologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Departamento de Patologia, Faculdade de Medicina do Triangulo Mineiro, Centro de Pesquisas Rene Rachou, FIOCRUZ, Department of Pathology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, and of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Veterans Administration Medical Center, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

We have previously reported that heart lesions in patients with chronic cardiac Chagas' disease are composed predominantly of granzyme A+, cytolytic CD8+ T lymphocytes. We now pursue this study in the immunopathology of chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy by investigation of the expression of HLA antigens, and adhesion molecules in the hearts of seven chagasic patients with cardiac disease, two asymptomatic chagasic patients, and seven normal controls. Comparative immunohistochemical analyses show that HLA-ABC antigen expression is enhanced on the myocardial cells of chagasic patients with chronic cardiomyopathy, suggesting a possible role for these cells as targets for the CD8+ cytolytic lymphocytes dominant in these lesions. The HLA-DR antigens are not observed on myocardial cells, but are consistently upregulated on the endothelial cells in the hearts of patients with chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy. Intercellular adhesion molecule is expressed by endothelial cells of both chagasic and nonchagasic individuals, but E-selectin was detected only on vessels of hearts from chagasic patients who had chronic cardiomyopathy. Most of the lymphocytes in these lesions express lymphocyte function antigen-1 (LFA-1), CD44, and very late antigen-4, and a few display weak expression of LFA-3. We propose that the expression of these adhesion molecules and major histocompatibility complex antigens by endothelial cells, myocardial cells, and lymphoid cells in these lesions contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy.