The Roles of Selenium and Mercury in the Pathogenesis of Viral Cardiomyopathy

Research on the pathogenesis of nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) has largely been focused on the role of viral pathogens and altered immunity. Trace elements have only rarely been considered; however, clinical observations that trace elements influence cardiovascular disease have been made in populations with extreme dietary deficiency or occupational exposure. Recently, animal models of DCM have been used to explore interactions among trace elements, viral pathogens, and the immune system. Discovery of interactions of trace elements with causes for DCM has heightened awareness of potential contributions of environmental variables to DCM pathogenesis. This article reviews the present knowledge regarding trace elements, in particular selenium and mercury, in the pathogenesis of viral and immune-mediated DCM. Based on recent studies, the authors propose a novel paradigm for the pathogenesis of viral DCM that incorporates trace element imbalance and its interactions with the cellular physiology of viral-induced cardiomyocyte dysfunction.