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1.  Altered Desmosomal Proteins in Granulomatous Myocarditis and Potential Pathogenic Links to Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy 
Background
Immunoreactive signal for the desmosomal protein plakoglobin (γ-catenin) is reduced at cardiac intercalated disks in patients with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a highly arrhythmogenic condition caused by mutations in genes encoding desmosomal proteins. Previously, we observed a “false positive” case in which plakoglobin signal was reduced in a patient initially thought to have ARVC but who actually had cardiac sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis can masquerade clinically as ARVC, but has not previously been associated with altered desmosomal proteins.
Methods and Results
We observed marked reduction in immunoreactive signal for plakoglobin at cardiac myocyte junctions in patients with sarcoidosis and giant cell myocarditis, both highly arrhythmogenic forms of myocarditis associated with granulomatous inflammation. In contrast, plakoglobin signal was not depressed in lymphocytic (non-granulomatous) myocarditis. To determine whether cytokines might promote dislocation of plakoglobin from desmosomes, we incubated cultures of neonatal rat ventricular myocytes with selected inflammatory mediators. Brief exposure to low concentrations of IL-17, TNFα and IL-6, cytokines implicated in granulomatous myocarditis, caused translocation of plakoglobin from cell-cell junctions to intracellular sites, whereas other potent cytokines implicated in non-granulomatous myocarditis had no effect, even at much high concentrations. We also observed myocardial expression of IL-17 and TNFα, and elevated serum levels of inflammatory mediators including IL-6R, IL-8, MCP1 and MIP1β in ARVC patients (all p<0.0001 compared with controls).
Conclusions
These results suggest novel disease mechanisms involving desmosomal proteins in granulomatous myocarditis and implicate cytokines, perhaps derived in part from the myocardium, in disruption of desmosomal proteins and arrhythmogenesis in ARVC.
doi:10.1161/CIRCEP.111.964890
PMCID: PMC3203520  PMID: 21859801
plakoglobin; desmosome; sarcoidosis; giant cell myocarditis; cytokines
2.  Diagnosis of Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy/Dysplasia (ARVC/D) 
Circulation  2010;121(13):1533-1541.
Background
In 1994, an International Task Force proposed criteria for the clinical diagnosis of ARVC/D which facilitated recognition and interpretation of the frequently non-specific clinical features of ARVC/D. This enabled confirmatory clinical diagnosis in index cases through exclusion of phenocopies, and provided a standard upon which clinical research and genetic studies could be based. Structural, histological, electrocardiographic, arrhythmic, and familial features of the disease were incorporated into the criteria, subdivided into major and minor according to the specificity of their association with ARVC/D. At that time, clinical experience with ARVC/D was dominated by symptomatic index cases and sudden cardiac death victims: the overt and/or severe end of the disease spectrum. Consequently, the 1994 criteria were highly specific but lacked sensitivity for early and familial disease.
Methods and Results
Revision of the diagnostic criteria provides guidance on the role of emerging diagnostic modalities and advances in the genetics of ARVC/D. The criteria have been modified to incorporate new knowledge and technology to improve diagnostic sensitivity, but with the important requisite of maintaining diagnostic specificity. The approach classifying structural, histological, electrocardiographic, arrhythmic, and genetic features of the disease as major and minor criteria has been maintained. In this modification of the Task Force Criteria, quantitative criteria are proposed and abnormalities are defined based on comparison with normal subject data.
Conclusions
The diagnosis of ARVC/D based on modification of the original Task Force criteria is a working framework to improve the diagnosis and management of this condition.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.840827
PMCID: PMC2860804  PMID: 20172911
cardiomyopathy; diagnosis; echocardiography; electrocardiography; magnetic resonance imaging
3.  Diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia 
European Heart Journal  2010;31(7):806-814.
Background
In 1994, an International Task Force proposed criteria for the clinical diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia (ARVC/D) that facilitated recognition and interpretation of the frequently nonspecific clinical features of ARVC/D. This enabled confirmatory clinical diagnosis in index cases through exclusion of phenocopies and provided a standard on which clinical research and genetic studies could be based. Structural, histological, electrocardiographic, arrhythmic, and familial features of the disease were incorporated into the criteria, subdivided into major and minor categories according to the specificity of their association with ARVC/D. At that time, clinical experience with ARVC/D was dominated by symptomatic index cases and sudden cardiac death victims–the overt or severe end of the disease spectrum. Consequently, the 1994 criteria were highly specific but lacked sensitivity for early and familial disease.
Methods and Results
Revision of the diagnostic criteria provides guidance on the role of emerging diagnostic modalities and advances in the genetics of ARVC/D. The criteria have been modified to incorporate new knowledge and technology to improve diagnostic sensitivity, but with the important requisite of maintaining diagnostic specificity. The approach of classifying structural, histological, electrocardiographic, arrhythmic, and genetic features of the disease as major and minor criteria has been maintained. In this modification of the Task Force criteria, quantitative criteria are proposed and abnormalities are defined on the basis of comparison with normal subject data.
Conclusions
The present modifications of the Task Force Criteria represent a working framework to improve the diagnosis and management of this condition.
Clinical Trial Registration
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00024505.
doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehq025
PMCID: PMC2848326  PMID: 20172912
Arrhythmias, cardiac; Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia; Death, sudden, cardiac; Diagnosis; Echocardiography; Electrocardiography; Magnetic resonance imaging
4.  Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia on the basis of the revised diagnostic criteria in affected families with desmosomal mutations 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(9):1097-1104.
Aims
To evaluate arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia (ARVC/D) in affected families with desmosome mutations on the basis of the recently revised Task Force Criteria (TFC).
Methods and results
One hundred and three consecutive carriers of pathogenic desmosome mutations and 102 mutation-negative relatives belonging to 22 families with dominant and 14 families with recessive ARVC/D were evaluated according to the original and revised TFC. Serial cardiac assessment with 12-lead, signal-averaged, and 24 h ambulatory ECG and two-dimensional echocardiography was performed. Clinical events and outcome were prospectively analysed up to 24 years (median 4 years). With the revised criteria, 16 carriers were newly diagnosed on the basis of ECG abnormalities in 100%, ventricular arrhythmias in 79%, and functional/structural alterations in 31%, increasing diagnostic sensitivity from 57 to 71% (P = 0.001). Task Force Criteria specificity improved from 92 to 99% (P = 0.016). In dominant mutation carriers, penetrance changed significantly (61 vs. 42%, P = 0.001); no changes were observed in recessive homozygous carriers (97 vs. 97%, P = 1.00). Affected carriers according to the revised TFC (n = 73) had 12-lead ECG abnormalities in 96%, ventricular arrhythmias in 91%, and functional/structural alterations fulfilling echocardiographic criteria in 76%. Cumulative and event-free survival did not differ significantly between dominant and recessive affected carriers, being at 78.6 vs. 76 and 51.7 vs. 55.4%, respectively, by the age of 40 years.
Conclusion
Revised TFC increased diagnostic sensitivity particularly in dominant ARVC/D. Serial family evaluation may rely on electrocardiography which seems to have the best diagnostic utility particularly in early disease that is not detectable by two-dimensional echocardiography.
doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr043
PMCID: PMC3086899  PMID: 21345848
Cardiomyopathy; Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia; Diagnostic criteria; Desmosome mutations
5.  Mechanistic insights into arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy caused by desmocollin-2 mutations 
Cardiovascular Research  2010;90(1):77-87.
Aims
Recent immunohistochemical studies observed the loss of plakoglobin (PG) from the intercalated disc (ID) as a hallmark of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), suggesting a final common pathway for this disease. However, the underlying molecular processes are poorly understood.
Methods and results
We have identified novel mutations in the desmosomal cadherin desmocollin 2 (DSC2 R203C, L229X, T275M, and G371fsX378). The two missense mutations (DSC2 R203C and T275M) have been functionally characterized, together with a previously reported frameshift variant (DSC2 A897fsX900), to examine their pathogenic potential towards PG's functions at the ID. The three mutant proteins were transiently expressed in various cellular systems and assayed for expression, processing, localization, and binding to other desmosomal components in comparison to wild-type DSC2a protein. The two missense mutations showed defects in proteolytic cleavage, a process which is required for the functional activation of mature cadherins. In both cases, this is thought to cause a reduction of functional DSC2 at the desmosomes in cardiac cells. In contrast, the frameshift variant was incorporated into cardiac desmosomes; however, it showed reduced binding to PG.
Conclusion
Despite different modes of action, for all three variants, the reduced ability to provide a ligand for PG at the desmosomes was observed. This is in agreement with the reduced intensity of PG at these structures observed in ARVC patients.
doi:10.1093/cvr/cvq353
PMCID: PMC3058729  PMID: 21062920
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Desmocollin-2; Desmosome; Functional studies; Mutation
6.  Naxos disease: Cardiocutaneous syndrome due to cell adhesion defect 
Naxos disease is a recessively inherited condition with arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy (ARVD/C) and a cutaneous phenotype, characterised by peculiar woolly hair and palmoplantar keratoderma. The disease was first described in families originating from the Greek island of Naxos. Moreover, affected families have been identified in other Aegean islands, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia. A syndrome with the same cutaneous phenotype and predominantly left ventricular involvement has been described in families from India and Ecuador (Carvajal syndrome). Woolly hair appears from birth, palmoplantar keratoderma develop during the first year of life and cardiomyopathy is clinically manifested by adolescence with 100% penetrance. Patients present with syncope, sustained ventricular tachycardia or sudden death. Symptoms of right heart failure appear during the end stages of the disease. In the Carvajal variant the cardiomyopathy is clinically manifested during childhood leading more frequently to heart failure. Mutations in the genes encoding the desmosomal proteins plakoglobin and desmoplakin have been identified as the cause of Naxos disease. Defects in the linking sites of these proteins can interrupt the contiguous chain of cell adhesion, particularly under conditions of increased mechanical stress or stretch, leading to cell death, progressive loss of myocardium and fibro-fatty replacement. Implantation of an automatic cardioverter defibrillator is indicated for prevention of sudden cardiac death. Antiarrhythmic drugs are used for preventing recurrences of episodes of sustained ventricular tachycardia and classical pharmacological treatment for congestive heart failure, while heart transplantation is considered at the end stages.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-1-4
PMCID: PMC1435994  PMID: 16722579
7.  Naxos Disease1 
Since 1995, according to the World Health Organisation’s classification of cardiomyopathies, Naxos disease has been considered as the recessive form of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy (ARVD/C). It is a stereotype association of ARVD/C with a cutaneous phenotype, characterised by woolly hair and palmoplantar keratoderma.
PMCID: PMC1502077  PMID: 16943947
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy; Naxos disease; Cell adhesions; Sudden death

Results 1-7 (7)