BACKGROUND: Although fibrosis seems to be prognostic for adverse outcomes in adults with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDC), little is known about the prevalence and development of fibrosis in pediatric IDC hearts. We hypothesized that there is less activation of fibrosis at a molecular level in pediatric IDC hearts than in failing adult hearts.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Pediatric hearts were analyzed histologically to determine the prevalence of fibrosis. Left ventricular tissue from adult and pediatric IDC hearts and adult and pediatric nonfailing (NF) hearts were subjected to quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction to study the expression of important mRNAs that affect fibrosis. We found age-specific differences between IDC and NF hearts in the regulation of noncoding galectin-3, Corin, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2, MMP-9, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP) 2, and TIMP-3. We also found markers that were similarly altered in both adult and pediatric IDC hearts (interleukin-1 receptor–like 1 receptor, TIMP-1, and TIMP-4). Finally, microRNAs 29a–c were significantly decreased in the pediatric IDC patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric IDC patients demonstrate age-specific differences in the molecular pathways implicated in fibrosis in the adult heart. At the ultrastructural level the unique gene expression pattern appears to limit fibrosis in the failing pediatric heart.