Methods and Results - Explanted failing hearts from 13 patients (8 with dilated cardiomyopathy [DCM] and 5 with other heart diseases [non-DCM]) and normal donor hearts (n=7) were investigated for the expression levels and subcellular localization of CAR and the adenovirus coreceptors αvβ3 and αvβ5 integrins. CAR immunoreactivity was very low in normal and non-DCM hearts, whereas strong CAR signals occurred at the intercalated discs and sarcolemma in 5 of the 8 DCM hearts (62.5%); these strong signals colocalized with both integrins. In all hearts, CAR was detectable in subendothelial layers of the vessel wall, but not on the luminal endothelial surface, and on interstitial cells. Human CAR (hCAR) expressed in rat cardiomyocytes was targeted to cell-cell contacts, which resembled CAR localization in DCM hearts and resulted in 15-fold increased adenovirus uptake.
Conclusions - Low hCAR abundance may render normal human myocardium resistant to CAR-dependent viruses, whereas re-expression of hCAR, such as that observed in DCM, may be a key determinant of cardiac susceptibility to viral infections. Asymmetric expression of hCAR in the vessel wall may be an important determinant of adenovirus tropism in humans. hCAR subcellular localization in human myocardium and hCAR targeting to cell-cell contacts in cardiomyocyte cultures suggest that hCAR may play a role in cell-cell contact formation.