New Insights Into the Genetic Basis of Inherited Arrhythmia Syndromes
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Inherited arrhythmia syndromes encompass several different diseases, including long QT syndrome (LQTS), Brugada syndrome (BrS), catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), short QT syndrome (SQTS), idiopathic ventricular fibrillation (IVF), and progressive cardiac conduction system disease (PCCD).1 The heart is typically structurally normal with no evidence of disease macroscopically. They are an important cause for sudden cardiac death in the young, and an autopsy is typically negative.2,3
Ventricular arrhythmias are caused by mutations of ion channels and their interacting proteins, predominantly involving potassium, sodium, and calcium handling.4 Genetic studies have identified the specific genetic abnormalities that underpin these diseases, even permitting diagnosis in the deceased using postmortem genetic testing (the molecular autopsy).3 Most arrhythmia syndromes are inherited in an autosomal dominant manner, such that first-degree family members have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. Identification of the mutation allows for predictive genetic testing in other living family members.4 Variable penetrance is common in all arrhythmia syndromes, the same mutation in the same family causing wide variation in phenotype.4 This suggests that other factors such as genetic modifiers and environmental factors may influence the phenotype.
This review will highlight the latest developments in understanding the genetic basis of inherited arrhythmia syndromes and discusses the new opportunities and challenges faced with evolving genetic technologies including determining pathogenicity and the utility of large genetic databases. Finally, we will discuss newly described entities that continue the evolving theme of genetic syndromes with phenotypic overlap. Early views that a single genotype associates with a particular phenotype continue to be challenged by our greater understanding of the genotype–phenotype relationship.
Inherited Arrhythmia Syndromes
Long QT Syndrome
Congenital LQTS is diagnosed in the presence of a prolonged corrected QT (QTc) interval after secondary causes (eg, QT-prolonging medications or electrolyte abnormalities) are excluded.1 The 2013 Heart Rhythm …