Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The pathogenesis of Chagas' disease: when autoimmune and parasite-specific immune responses meet.

By Milena Botelho Pereira Soares, Lain Carlos Pontes-de-Carvalho and Ricardo Ribeiro dos Santos


Chagas' disease is a major health problem in Latin America, where it constitutes one of the leading causes of heart failure. About one fourth of Trypanosoma cruzi-infected individuals develop chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy (CChC), the most severe form of the disease. CChC is histologically characterized by the presence of multifocal inflammatory infiltrates in the heart, composed mainly by mononuclear cells, usually adhered to myocytes and leading to myocytolysis, and frequently by interstitial fibrosis. The pathogenesis of CChC is still unclear, despite intense investigations both in human beings and in animal models of the disease. Although tissue parasitism is rare in the chronic phase of infection, an immune response targeted to persistent parasites or parasite antigens is suggested, by some authors, as the pathogenic mechanism of CChC. Other researchers affirm that the lack of correlation between tissue parasitism and intensity of inflammation suggests, along with the presence of autoreactive immune responses, that CChC results from the action of an autoimmune response. Herein we review reports from the literature and our own data, which together indicate, on one hand, the participation of parasite-specific immune responses and, on the other hand, clearly demonstrate the participation of heart-specific immune responses in the pathogenesis of CChC. Moreover, multiple factors may determine whether an individual in the indeterminate form of the disease will develop CChC. The mechanisms by which T. cruzi breaks immunological tolerance to heart antigens are also discussed

Topics: Chagas’ disease, myocarditis,, Autoimmunity, Trypanosoma cruzi, Ddelayed-type hypersensitivity, Auto-Imunidade, Cardiomiopatia Chagásica/imunologia, Trypanosoma cruzi/imunologia, Animais, Cardiomiopatia Chagásica/patologia, Doença Crônica, Humanos, Hipersensibilidade Tardia/imunologia, Tolerância Imunológica, Camundongos, Fatores de Tempo
Year: 2001
OAI identifier:
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • (external link)
  • Suggested articles

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.