Case Study | Published:

Reversible cardiomyopathy caused by administration of interferon α

Nature Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine volume 2, pages 5357 (2005) | Download Citation



Background A 56-year-old man with normal cardiac function received treatment with interferon α-2b for malignant melanoma. Eight months after the initiation of therapy he developed fatigue and dyspnea on exertion. Two months later, he was admitted to hospital with ORTHOPNEA, worsening dyspnea and cough. Physical examination findings were consistent with congestive heart failure. Laboratory studies were notable for hypothyroidism. Echocardiography revealed severe, global left-ventricular dysfunction.

Investigations Echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, serum chemistries, coronary angiography, right-heart and left-heart catheterization and endomyocardial biopsy.

Diagnosis Interferon α-2b-induced cardiomyopathy.

Management Intravenous dobutamine and dopamine for cardiogenic shock and discontinuation of interferon α-2b.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    et al. (1985) Tubuloreticular inclusions in peripheral blood mononuclear cells related to systemic therapy with alpha-interferon. Lab Invest 52: 638–649

  2. 2.

    et al. (2000) Underlying causes and long-term survival in patients with initially unexplained cardiomyopathy. N Engl J Med 342: 1077–1084

  3. 3.

    and (2001) Thyroid hormone and the cardiovascular system. N Engl J Med 344: 501–509

  4. 4.

    et al. (2000) Endoneurial vasculitis and tubuloreticular inclusions in peripheral nerve biopsy. Clin Neuropathol 19: 70–76

  5. 5.

    et al. (1989) Reversible cardiac dysfunction associated with interferon alfa therapy in AIDS patients with Kaposi's sarcoma. N Engl J Med 321: 1246–1249

  6. 6.

    et al. (1995) Immune-mediated and unusual complications during interferon alfa therapy in chronic myelogenous leukemia. J Clin Oncol 13: 2401–2407

  7. 7.

    et al. (1996) Multiple changes in thyroid function in patients with chronic active HCV hepatitis treated with recombinant interferon-alpha. Am J Med 101: 482–487

  8. 8.

    et al. (1987) Myocarditis. A histopathologic definition and classification. Am J Cardiovasc Pathol 1: 3–14

  9. 9.

    et al. (2002) Interferon-alpha as an immunotherapeutic protein. J Leukoc Biol 71: 565–581

  10. 10.

    et al. (2004) Endomyocardial biopsy plays a role in diagnosing patients with unexplained cardiomyopathy. Am Heart J 147: 919–923

Download references


The authors thank Kenneth L Baughman for advice on this manuscript. This work was supported in part by the Johns Hopkins DW Reynolds Foundation.

Author information


  1. AY Khakoo and JE Rame are Fellows, DP Judge an Assistant Professor and EK Kasper an Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology and MK Halushka is an Instructor and ER Rodriguez an Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.

    • Aarif Y Khakoo
    • , Marc K Halushka
    • , J Eduardo Rame
    • , E Rene Rodriguez
    • , Edward K Kasper
    •  & Daniel P Judge


  1. Search for Aarif Y Khakoo in:

  2. Search for Marc K Halushka in:

  3. Search for J Eduardo Rame in:

  4. Search for E Rene Rodriguez in:

  5. Search for Edward K Kasper in:

  6. Search for Daniel P Judge in:

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Daniel P Judge.

About this article

Publication history