The Number of Regulatory T Cells Correlates with Hemodynamic Improvement in Patients with Inflammatory Dilated Cardiomyopathy After Immunoadsorption Therapy


  • Declaration of Helsinki: The authors state that their study complies with the Declaration of Helsinki that the locally appointed ethics committee has approved the research protocol and that informed consent has been obtained from the subjects.

Correspondence to: D. Bulut, M.D., Division of Cardiology, St. Josef-Hospital, Ruhr-University Bochum, Gudrunstrasse 56, 44791 Bochum, Germany. E-mail:


Inflammatory DCM (iDCM) may be related to autoimmune processes. An immunoadsorption (IA) has been reported to improve cardiac hemodynamics. The benefit of IA is probably related to the removal of autoantibodies. A recent study suggests additional effects of IA on the T cell–mediated immune reactions, especially on regulatory T cells (Tregs). In this prospective study, the correlation between the level of Tregs and improvement of myocardial contractility in response to IA in patients with iDCM was investigated. Patients (n = 18) with iDCM, reduced left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction (<35%), were enrolled for IA. Before and 6 months after IA, LV systolic function was assessed by echocardiography, and blood levels of Tregs were quantified by FACS analysis. Patients (n = 12) with chronic ischaemic heart failure and comparable reduced LV-EF served as controls. IA improved LV-EF in 12 of 18 patients at 6-month follow-up. These patients were classified as ‘IA responder’. In 6 patients, LV-EF remained unchanged. At baseline, IA responder and non-responder subgroups showed similar values for C-reactive protein, white blood cells, lymphocytes and T helper cells, but they differ for the number of circulating Tregs (responder: 2.32 ± 1.38% versus non-responder: 4.86 ± 0.28%; P < 0.01). Tregs increased significantly in the IA responders, but remained unchanged in the IA non-responders. In patients with ischaemic cardiomyopathy, none of these values changed over time. A low level of Tregs in patients with chronic iDCM may characterize a subset of patients who do best respond to IA therapy.