SFB 914 Trafficking of Immune Cells in Inflammation, Development and Disease

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Midkine drives cardiac inflammation by promoting neutrophil trafficking and NETosis in myocarditis.


Ludwig Weckbach, clinician scientist of SFB 914, and colleagues publish their results in the Journal of Experimental Medicine

Neutrophil extracellular traps are major drivers of cardiac inflammation in myocarditis

Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) can maintain chronic inflammation. Weckbach and colleagues demonstrate that neutrophil infiltration and NET formation driven by the cytokine midkine foster cardiac inflammation in myocarditis.

Myocarditis is a common cause for heart failure in young adults. Whereas the involvement of the adaptive immune system in cardiac inflammation has been widely acknowledged, the contribution of innate immunity and particularly neutrophils has only been marginally addressed. Weckbach and colleagues identified NETs in endomyocardial biopsies of patients suffering from myocarditis. In a myocarditis mouse model, NETs were major drivers of cardiac inflammation. The authors provide evidence that the cytokine midkine fostered cardiac inflammation by promoting neutrophil recruitment and NET formation. Thus, NETs or midkine could potentially represent novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of myocarditis.

First author Ludwig Weckbach (clinician scientist of the SFB 914), last author Barbara Walzog (PI project A02) and their co-authors published these findings in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Ludwig works as clinician in the Department of Cardiology (Medizinische Klinik I und Poliklinik I, Klinikum der Universität München) headed by Steffen Massberg (PI project B02).

Collaborative effort

The publication greatly benefited from close collaborations between project A02 (PI Barbara Walzog), project B02 (PI Steffen Massberg), and the spinning-disk confocal microscopy service platform Z03 (PI Barbara Walzog).


Weckbach LT, Grabmaier U, Uhl A, Gess S, Boehm F, Zehrer A, Pick R, Salvermoser M, Czermak T, Pircher J, Sorrelle N, Migliorini M, Strickland DK, Klingel K, Brinkmann V, Abu Abed U, Eriksson U, Massberg S, Brunner S, Walzog B.
Midkine drives cardiac inflammation by promoting neutrophil trafficking and NETosis in myocarditis.
J Exp Med, Jan 15, 2019 [Epub ahead of print].


Dr. Ludwig T. Weckbach

Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik I
Klinikum der Universität München
Marchioninistr. 15
D-81377 München

Walter-Brendel-Zentrum für Experimentelle Medizin
Biomedizinisches Centrum
LMU München
Großhaderner Str. 9
D-82152 Planegg-Martinsried