Chagas' disease, caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is an important cause of cardiomyopathy. Microvascular spasm and matrix dissolution, modulated by endothelin-1 (ET-1), is implicated in the pathogenesis of chagasic heart disease. To further elucidate the role of ET-1 in murine chagasic heart disease, C57BL/6×129sv mice were infected with T. cruzi (103 trypomastigotes of the Brazil strain). These mice are resistant to death during the acute phase but progress to chronic cardiomyopathy. Infected mice were compared with infected mice treated with phosphoramidon, a non-specific metalloprotease inhibitor that is also a potent inhibitor of endothelin-converting enzyme, at a dose of 10mg/kg. Mice were treated with phosphoramidon for the initial 15 days post infection (PI). All mice were evaluated 200 days PI. Examination of infected, untreated mice revealed marked inflammation, vasculitis and fibrosis. The hearts of infected treated mice had significantly less pathology. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed that right ventricular internal diameter (RVID) was significantly greater (P<0.05) in the infected untreated group (2.9±0.22mm) as compared with the infected treated group (1.73±0.35mm). In another experiment phosphoramidon treatment was also tested in CD1 mice, which have a high mortality during the acute phase of infection with 5×104 trypomastigotes of the Brazil strain. One group of CD1 mice was untreated while the other group received phosphoramidon for the initial 15 days PI. The mortality rate in untreated mice was 70% by day 35 PI, while all treated infected mice lived. The parasitemia in both groups was similar. The cardiac pathology was more severe in untreated mice. MRI revealed the RVID to be significantly greater in the untreated infected group as compared with the phosphoramidon-treated infected mice (2.74±0.03mm versus 1.64±0.4mm P<0.05). Transthoracic echocardiography revealed that the percentage fractional shortening was reduced in infected CD1 mice but not in those infected mice treated with phosphoramidon. There was no effect of phosphoramidon in uninfected mice. Phosphoramidon (100µg/ml) had no effect on parasites in vitro. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that ET-1 contributes to the pathogenesis of murine chagasic cardiomyopathy and suggests that interventions targeting ET-1 would improve the outcome in chagasic heart disease.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.