Injury to cardiac myocytes often leads to the production of anti-myosin antibodies. While these antibodies are a marker of myocardial injury, their contribution to pathogenesis in diseases such as autoimmune myocarditis or rheumatic fever is much less clear. We demonstrate in this report that monoclonal anti-myosin antibodies can mediate myocarditis in a susceptible mouse strain. Additionally, we show disease susceptibility depends on the presence of myosin or a myosin-like molecule in cardiac extracellular matrix. This study demonstrates that susceptibility to autoimmune heart disease depends not only on the activation of self-reactive lymphocytes but also on genetically determined target organ sensitivity to autoantibodies.

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