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10-04-2012 | Cardiology | Article

Research pinpoints viruses underlying dilated cardiomyopathy


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MedWire News: Human enterovirus and parvovirus B19 are the most commonly detected viruses in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), study findings indicate.

Speaking at the 22nd European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in London, UK, Laurent Andreoletti (University Medical Centre of Reims, France) explained that cardiotropic viruses are the main cause of cardiac infection and can cause acute myocarditis, which may then evolve into chronic myocarditis and DCM. Approximately 80% of patients with DCM will require a heart transplant, while the other 20% die suddenly from cardiac causes.

Although research has demonstrated that viruses are involved in unexplained DCM, the exact species are not known, partly due to lack of standardized and reliable quantitative molecular detection assays in cardiac tissues.

To address this, Andreoletti and team evaluated a novel technique for the identification and semiquantification of cardiotropic viruses that is based on the polymerase chain reaction coupled with electrospray ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry analysis (PCR/ESI-TOF MS). Classical quantitative realtime PCR (Q rt-PCR) assays were used as a comparator.

The researchers screened for nine different viruses in fixed explanted or postmortem myocardial samples obtained from 24 patients with idiopathic DCM, and in 14 control samples from adult patients who died accidentally or committed suicide.

Andreoletti reported that single or multiple viral genomes were detected in 16 (67%) of the 24 DCM patients. Parvovirus B19 was the most commonly detected virus, present in 21% of patients, followed by human enterovirus in 17% and human herpes virus 6 in 4%. One in four patients had human enterovirus/parvovirus B19 co-infection.

By contrast, no viral DNA or RNA was detected in the control samples.

The researchers observed good correlation between the PCR/ESI-TOF MS assay and classical Q rt-PCR for levels of human enterovirus RNA but not for levels of parvovirus B19 levels.

Andreoletti concluded that the PCR ESI/TOF MS assay "could be used to perform standardized quantification of human cardiac viruses, and to assess the role of these viruses in idiopathic DCM."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Laura Cowen

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