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      Inflammation – Cause or Consequence of Heart Failure or Both?

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          Purpose of Review

          With the intention to summarize the currently available evidence on the pathophysiological relevance of inflammation in heart failure, this review addresses the question whether inflammation is a cause or consequence of heart failure, or both.

          Recent Findings

          This review discusses the diversity (sterile, para-inflammation, chronic inflammation) and sources of inflammation and gives an overview of how inflammation (local versus systemic) can trigger heart failure. On the other hand, the review is outlined how heart failure-associated wall stress and signals released by stressed, malfunctioning, or dead cells (DAMPs: e.g., mitochondrial DNA, ATP, S100A8, matricellular proteins) induce cardiac sterile inflammation and how heart failure provokes inflammation in various peripheral tissues in a direct (inflammatory) and indirect (hemodynamic) manner. The crosstalk between the heart and peripheral organs (bone marrow, spleen, gut, adipose tissue) is outlined and the importance of neurohormonal mechanisms including the renin angiotensin aldosteron system and the ß-adrenergic nervous system in inflammation and heart failure is discussed.


          Inflammation and heart failure are strongly interconnected and mutually reinforce each other. This indicates the difficulty to counteract inflammation and heart failure once this chronic vicious circle has started and points out the need to control the inflammatory process at an early stage avoiding chronic inflammation and heart failure. The diversity of inflammation further addresses the need for a tailored characterization of inflammation enabling differentiation of inflammation and subsequent target-specific strategies. It is expected that the characterization of the systemic and/or cardiac immune profile will be part of precision medicine in the future of cardiology.

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          Most cited references 168

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          Inflammation and metabolic disorders.

          Metabolic and immune systems are among the most fundamental requirements for survival. Many metabolic and immune response pathways or nutrient- and pathogen-sensing systems have been evolutionarily conserved throughout species. As a result, immune response and metabolic regulation are highly integrated and the proper function of each is dependent on the other. This interface can be viewed as a central homeostatic mechanism, dysfunction of which can lead to a cluster of chronic metabolic disorders, particularly obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Collectively, these diseases constitute the greatest current threat to global human health and welfare.
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            A role for mitochondria in NLRP3 inflammasome activation.

            An inflammatory response initiated by the NLRP3 inflammasome is triggered by a variety of situations of host 'danger', including infection and metabolic dysregulation. Previous studies suggested that NLRP3 inflammasome activity is negatively regulated by autophagy and positively regulated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) derived from an uncharacterized organelle. Here we show that mitophagy/autophagy blockade leads to the accumulation of damaged, ROS-generating mitochondria, and this in turn activates the NLRP3 inflammasome. Resting NLRP3 localizes to endoplasmic reticulum structures, whereas on inflammasome activation both NLRP3 and its adaptor ASC redistribute to the perinuclear space where they co-localize with endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria organelle clusters. Notably, both ROS generation and inflammasome activation are suppressed when mitochondrial activity is dysregulated by inhibition of the voltage-dependent anion channel. This indicates that NLRP3 inflammasome senses mitochondrial dysfunction and may explain the frequent association of mitochondrial damage with inflammatory diseases.
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              Origin and physiological roles of inflammation.

              Inflammation underlies a wide variety of physiological and pathological processes. Although the pathological aspects of many types of inflammation are well appreciated, their physiological functions are mostly unknown. The classic instigators of inflammation - infection and tissue injury - are at one end of a large range of adverse conditions that induce inflammation, and they trigger the recruitment of leukocytes and plasma proteins to the affected tissue site. Tissue stress or malfunction similarly induces an adaptive response, which is referred to here as para-inflammation. This response relies mainly on tissue-resident macrophages and is intermediate between the basal homeostatic state and a classic inflammatory response. Para-inflammation is probably responsible for the chronic inflammatory conditions that are associated with modern human diseases.

                Author and article information

                +49 (0)30 450539486 ,
                +49 (0)30 450553711 ,
                Curr Heart Fail Rep
                Curr Heart Fail Rep
                Current Heart Failure Reports
                Springer US (New York )
                30 June 2017
                30 June 2017
                : 14
                : 4
                : 251-265
                [1 ]Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany
                [2 ]Department of Cardiology, Campus Virchow Klinikum, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

                Comorbidities of Heart Failure (C Angermann and F Edelmann, Section Editors)
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                © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017


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