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The heart as a target organ of immune injury.

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Over the last 10 years, our knowledge of immunologically mediated processes involving the myocardium appears to have made quantum leaps. New and important
disease entities such as AIDS have appeared and the cardiologist now becomes an important member of the “AIDS team.” Our understanding of “older diseases” such as sarcoidosis,
Lyme disease, systemic lupus and other connective tissue syndromes has significantly increased. The concept of high-dose steroid therapy for these processes may, in fact, turn out to be futile and more selective, as less dangerous immunosuppression is being introduced. This concept has significantly advanced in the field of cardiac transplantation where immunosuppression has now been usurped by specific immunotherapy aimed at selective aspects of the immune sequence. New and exciting concepts will emerge from the molecular biology laboratory that will have direct bearing on the management of patients with cardiovascular disorders. This information explosion will force the cardiovascular physician to become more in tune with the world of immunology and molecular biology. Many obvious, significant problems remain, such as accelerated atherosclerosis in the transplant patient and the role of myocarditis in the patient with heart failure. However, it will truly be an exciting decade in which to work and watch the unraveling of these mysteries and hopefully, the study of today’s problems will give way to solutions and a clearer understanding of the heart as a target of immune injury.

Curr Probl Cardiol. 1991 Jun;16(6):377-442. Review

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