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Immunity and inflammation: the neglected key players in congenital heart disease?


Although more than 90% of children born with congenital heart disease (CHD) survive into adulthood, patients face significantly higher and premature morbidity and mortality. Heart failure as well as non-cardiac comorbidities represent a striking and life-limiting problem with need for new treatment options. Systemic chronic inflammation and immune activation have been identified as crucial drivers of disease causes and progression in various cardiovascular disorders and are promising therapeutic targets. Accumulating evidence indicates an inflammatory state and immune alterations in children and adults with CHD. In this review, we highlight the implications of chronic inflammation, immunity, and immune senescence in CHD. In this context, we summarize the impact of infant open-heart surgery with subsequent thymectomy on the immune system later in life and discuss the potential role of comorbidities and underlying genetic alterations. How an altered immunity and chronic inflammation in CHD influence patient outcomes facing SARS-CoV-2 infection is unclear, but requires special attention, as CHD could represent a population particularly at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Concluding remarks address possible clinical implications of immune changes in CHD and consider future immunomodulatory therapies.

Authors: Wienecke LM, Cohen S, Bauersachs J, Mebazaa A, Chousterman BG,
Journal: Heart Fail Rev;2021 Dec02. doi:10.1007/s10741-021-10187-6
Year: 2021
PubMed: PMID: 34855062 (Go to PubMed)