A model of experimental autoimmune myocarditis, which resembles fatal giant cell myocarditis in humans, was previously established in rats immunized by s.c. injection of human cardiac myosin. We characterized herein the surface phenotype of lymphocytes infiltrating the heart and pericardial cavity as well as of mononuclear cells in various organs by using mAb in conjunction with immunofluorescence tests. Since profound thymic atrophy always accompanied the diseased states, attention was focused on characterization of T cells with properties similar to those of extrathymic T cells. In mice, extrathymic T cells were activated in association with thymic atrophy, expressed high levels of LFA-1 and IL-2R beta-chains, and contained a significant proportion of double negative CD4-CD8- T cells. In diseased rats, a large proportion of activated T cells that expressed high levels of LFA-1 and IL-2R was demonstrated in the pericardial effusion and heart tissue. Such T cells were rare in the other organs. Light scatter and microscopic observation revealed that activated lymphoblasts were most abundant in the pericardial effusion. Moreover, one-fourth of such T cells in the pericardial effusion displayed double negative phenotype. These cells in rats might correspond to the extrathymic T cells in mice. However, only a limited population of such activated T cells infiltrated the heart tissue. Concerning the location of such T cells mainly in the outer layer of the heart, it raised the possibility that extrathymic T cell differentiation in these autoimmune rats might occur in the pericardial cavity, and the differentiated cells then migrated to the sites of the cardiac lesion.

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