The economic and social burden associated with Chagas disease morbidity and mortality is regrettably large in Latin America causing more deaths than does any other parasitic disease. Inflammatory dilated cardiomyopathy is, by far, the most important clinical consequence of Trypanosoma cruzi infection. The insidious persistence of this parasite determines chronic myocarditis progression. The clinical outcome is multifactorial and depends on the particular parasite strain and virulence factors, the infective load and route of infection, the parasite ability to by-pass the protective immune response, the intensity and type of immune response during the acute infective phase, and the host genetic background. From the immunological viewpoint, host control of T. cruzi has been shown to depend on both humoral and cell-mediated adaptive responses and from the innate immune system. In this review, we discuss the most relevant literature conveying information on the relevance of identifying a subset of systemic inflammatory molecules as potential markers of cardiovascular risk morbidity and mortality in patients with Chagas disease. Concurrently, a direct role for the parasite in the perpetuation of myocardial inflammation is substantiated. Ultimately, host-parasite interactions determine the course of the ongoing systemic inflammation and the perpetuation of myocardial inflammation in genetically predisposed patients.
Part of the book: Chagas Disease