What is Myocarditis?
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium), usually due to a viral infection. Other causes include bacterial infections, certain medications, toxins, and autoimmune disorders. The inflammation can lead to arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy or heart failure. While there are often no symptoms, myocarditis may cause sudden cardiac arrest, even among young people.
Myocarditis Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine
The Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute houses a unique research collaboration in myocarditis, where basic research studies led by Dr. Daniela Cihakova directly inform the clinical research spearheaded by Dr. Nisha Gilotra. Likewise, information from Dr. Gilotra’s studies with patients is used to guide Dr. Cihakova’s continued explorations on the basic science front.
Using patient registries, our heart failure team continues to study the role of myocarditis, or inflammation, in various diseases of the heart muscle that can put patients at higher risk of sudden death due to arrhythmia. Over the last year we have focused on arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (which can present specifically in young athletic patients) and cardiac sarcoid myocarditis. Through clinical studies, we have also been able to continue to collect blood and tissue specimens from myocarditis patients to ultimately learn more about the immunology behind this condition.
In basic research studies, we recently made an important discovery that gave us a better understanding of how different types of immune cells called macrophages interact with cardiac stroma cells. We investigated the ability of macrophages to clear dead cells after myocarditis and identified how to boost this ability.