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Cardiac M2 muscarinic cholinoceptor activation by human chagasic autoantibodies: association with bradycardia
  1. J C Goin,
  2. E S Borda,
  3. S Auger,
  4. R Storino,
  5. L Sterin-Borda
  1. Centro de Estudios Farmacológicos y Botánicos (CEFYBO), Pharmacology Department, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Buenos Aires, Serrano 669, 5to Piso, 1414 Buenos Aires, Argentina
  1. Dr Sterin-Borda. email: leo{at}


OBJECTIVE To assess whether exposure of cardiac muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR) to activating chagasic antimyocardial immunoglobulins results in bradycardia and other dysautonomic symptoms associated with the regulation of heart rate.

METHODS Trypanosoma cruzi infected patients with bradycardia and other abnormalities in tests of the autonomic nervous system were studied and compared with normal subjects. Antipeptide antibodies in serum were demonstrated by an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay using a synthetic 24-mer-peptide corresponding antigenically to the second extracellular loop of the human heart M2 mAChR. The functional effect of affinity purified antipeptide IgG from chagasic patients on spontaneous beating frequency and cAMP production of isolated normal rat atria was studied.

RESULTS There was a strong association between the finding of antipeptide antibodies in chagasic patients and the presence of basal bradycardia and an altered Valsalva manoeuvre (basal bradycardia: χ2 = 37.5, p < 0.00001; Valsalva manoeuvre: χ2 = 70.0, p < 0.00001). The antipeptide autoantibodies also showed agonist activity, decreasing the rate of contraction and cAMP production. The effects on rat atria resembled the effects of the authentic agonist and those of the total polyclonal chagasic IgG, being selectively blunted by atropine and AF-DX 116, and neutralised by the synthetic peptide corresponding in amino acid sequence to the second extracellular loop of the human M2mAChR.

CONCLUSIONS There is an association between circulating antipeptide autoantibodies in chagasic patients and the presence of bradycardia and other dysautonomic symptoms. Thus these autoantibodies are a marker of autoimmune cardiac autonomic dysfunction. The results support the hypothesis that autoimmune mechanisms play a role in the pathogenesis of chagasic cardioneuromyopathy.

  • heart rate
  • bradycardia
  • autoantibodies
  • chagasic cardiomyopathy

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