Previous reports indicate that IL18 is a novel candidate gene for diastolic dysfunction in sickle cell disease (SCD)–related cardiomyopathy. We hypothesize that interleukin-18 (IL-18) mediates the development of cardiomyopathy and ventricular tachycardia (VT) in SCD. Compared with control mice, a humanized mouse model of SCD exhibited increased cardiac fibrosis, prolonged duration of action potential, higher VT inducibility in vivo, higher cardiac NF-κB phosphorylation, and higher circulating IL-18 levels, as well as reduced voltage-gated potassium channel expression, which translates to reduced transient outward potassium current (Ito) in isolated cardiomyocytes. Administering IL-18 to isolated mouse hearts resulted in VT originating from the right ventricle and further reduced Ito in SCD mouse cardiomyocytes. Sustained IL-18 inhibition via IL-18–binding protein resulted in decreased cardiac fibrosis and NF-κB phosphorylation, improved diastolic function, normalized electrical remodeling, and attenuated IL-18–mediated VT in SCD mice. Patients with SCD and either myocardial fibrosis or increased QTc displayed greater IL18 gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), and QTc was strongly correlated with plasma IL-18 levels. PBMC-derived IL18 gene expression was increased in patients who did not survive compared with those who did. IL-18 is a mediator of sickle cell cardiomyopathy and VT in mice and a novel therapeutic target in patients at risk for sudden death. Key Points: • SCD mice exhibit a myocardium vulnerable to VT. • IL-18 is a novel therapeutic target for sickle cell cardiomyopathy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology