Characterization of acute TLR-7 agonist-induced hemorrhagic myocarditis in mice by multi-parametric quantitative cardiac MRI.
Hemorrhagic myocarditis is a potentially fatal complication of excessive levels of systemic inflammation. It has been reported in viral infection, but is also possible in systemic autoimmunity. Epicutaneous treatment of mice with the TLR-7 agonist Resiquimod induces auto-antibodies and systemic tissue damage including in the heart, and is used as an inducible mouse model of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).Here, we show that over-activation of the TLR-7 pathway of viral recognition by Resiquimod-treatment of CFN mice induces severe thrombocytopenia and internal bleeding which manifests most prominently as hemorrhagic myocarditis. We optimized a cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) tissue mapping approach for the in vivo detection of diffuse infiltration, fibrosis and hemorrhages using a combination of T1, T2 and T2* relaxation times, and compared results to ex vivo histopathology of cardiac sections corresponding to CMR tissue maps. This allowed a detailed correlation between in vivo CMR parameters and ex vivo histopathology, and confirmed the need to include T2* measurements to detect tissue iron for accurate interpretation of pathology associated with CMR parameter changes.In summary, we provide detailed histological and in vivo imaging-based characterization of acute hemorrhagic myocarditis as acute cardiac complication in the mouse model of Resiquimod-induced SLE, and a refined CMR protocol to allow non-invasive longitudinal in vivo studies of heart involvement in acute inflammation. We propose that adding T2* mapping to CMR protocols for myocarditis diagnosis will improve interpretation of disease mechanisms and diagnostic sensitivity.