Rationale: There is mounting evidence of a higher incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) in cytomegalovirus (CMV) seropositive individuals.
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether acute MI triggers an inflammatory T-cell response that might lead to accelerated immunosenescence in CMV-seropositive patients.
Methods and Results: Thirty-four patients with acute MI undergoing primary PCI (PPCI) were longitudinally studied within 3 months following reperfusion (Cohort A). In addition, 54 patients with acute and chronic MI were analyzed in a cross-sectional study (Cohort B). CMV-seropositive patients demonstrated a greater fall in the concentration of terminally differentiated CD8 effector memory T cells (TEMRA) in peripheral blood during the first 30 min of reperfusion compared with CMV-seronegative patients (-192 vs. -63 cells/µl; p=0.008), correlating with the expression of programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) before PPCI (r=0.8; p=0.0002). A significant proportion of TEMRA cells remained depleted for at least 3 months in CMV-seropositive patients. Using high-throughput 13-parameter flow cytometry and HLA class I CMV-specific dextramers, we confirmed an acute and persistent depletion of terminally differentiated TEMRA and CMV-specific CD8+ cells in CMV-seropositive patients. Long-term reconstitution of the TEMRA pool in chronic CMV-seropositive post-MI patients was associated with signs of terminal differentiation including an increase in KLRG1 and shorter telomere length in CD8+ T cells (2225 bp vs. 3397 bp; p<0.001).
Conclusions: Myocardial ischemia and reperfusion in CMV-seropositive patients undergoing PPCI leads to acute loss of antigen-specific, terminally differentiated CD8 T-cells, possibly through PD-1-dependent programmed cell death. Our results suggest that acute MI and reperfusion accelerate immunosenescence in CMV-seropositive patients.