Marked prolongation of the QT interval and polymorphic ventricular tachycardia following medication (drug-induced long QT syndrome, diLQTS) is a severe adverse drug reaction (ADR) that phenocopies congenital long QT syndrome (cLQTS) and one of the leading causes for drug withdrawal and relabeling. We evaluated the frequency of rare non-synonymous variants in genes contributing to the maintenance of heart rhythm in cases of diLQTS using targeted capture coupled to next generation sequencing. Eleven of 31 diLQTS subjects (36%) carried a novel missense mutation in genes with known congenital arrhythmia associations or a known cLQTS mutation. In the 26 Caucasian subjects, 23% carried a highly conserved rare variant predicted to be deleterious to protein function in these genes compared with only 2-4% in public databases (p < 0.003). We conclude that rare variation in genes responsible for congenital arrhythmia syndromes is frequent in diLQTS. Our findings demonstrate that diLQTS is a pharmacogenomic syndrome predisposed by rare genetic variants.
pharmacogenomics; sudden cardiac death; adverse drug reaction; next generation sequencing
To test the hypothesis that rare variants are associated with Drug-induced long QT syndrome (diLQTS) and torsade de pointes (TdP).
diLQTS is associated with the potentially fatal arrhythmia TdP. The contribution of rare genetic variants to the underlying genetic framework predisposing diLQTS has not been systematically examined.
We performed whole exome sequencing (WES) on 65 diLQTS cases and 148 drug-exposed controls of European descent. We employed rare variant analyses (variable threshold [VT] and sequence kernel association test [SKAT]) and gene-set analyses to identify genes enriched with rare amino-acid coding (AAC) variants associated with diLQTS. Significant associations were reanalyzed by comparing diLQTS cases to 515 ethnically matched controls from the NHLBI GO Exome Sequencing Project (ESP).
Rare variants in 7 genes were enriched in the diLQTS cases according to SKAT or VT compared to drug exposed controls (p<0.001). Of these, we replicated the diLQTS associations for KCNE1 and ACN9 using 515 ESP controls (p<0.05). A total of 37% of the diLQTS cases also had ≥1 rare AAC variant, as compared to 21% of controls (p=0.009), in a predefined set of seven congenital LQTS (cLQTS) genes encoding potassium channels or channel modulators (KCNE1,KCNE2,KCNH2,KCNJ2, KCNJ5,KCNQ1,AKAP9).
By combining WES with aggregated rare variant analyses, we implicate rare variants in KCNE1 and ACN9 as risk factors for diLQTS. Moreover, diLQTS cases were more burdened by rare AAC variants in cLQTS genes encoding potassium channel modulators, supporting the idea that multiple rare variants, notably across cLQTS genes, predispose to diLQTS.
exome; torsade des pointes; long QT syndrome; genetics, adverse drug event
Electrocardiographic QRS duration, a measure of cardiac intraventricular conduction, varies ~2-fold in individuals without cardiac disease. Slow conduction may promote reentrant arrhythmias.
Methods and Results
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify genomic markers of QRS duration in 5,272 individuals without cardiac disease selected from electronic medical record (EMR) algorithms at five sites in the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) network. The most significant loci were evaluated within the CHARGE consortium QRS GWAS meta-analysis. Twenty-three single nucleotide polymorphisms in 5 loci, previously described by CHARGE, were replicated in the eMERGE samples; 18 SNPs were in the chromosome 3 SCN5A and SCN10A loci, where the most significant SNPs were rs1805126 in SCN5A with p=1.2×10−8 (eMERGE) and p=2.5×10−20 (CHARGE) and rs6795970 in SCN10A with p=6×10−6 (eMERGE) and p=5×10−27 (CHARGE). The other loci were in NFIA, near CDKN1A, and near C6orf204. We then performed phenome-wide association studies (PheWAS) on variants in these five loci in 13,859 European Americans to search for diagnoses associated with these markers. PheWAS identified atrial fibrillation and cardiac arrhythmias as the most common associated diagnoses with SCN10A and SCN5A variants. SCN10A variants were also associated with subsequent development of atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia in the original 5,272 “heart-healthy” study population.
We conclude that DNA biobanks coupled to EMRs provide a platform not only for GWAS but may also allow broad interrogation of the longitudinal incidence of disease associated with genetic variants. The PheWAS approach implicated sodium channel variants modulating QRS duration in subjects without cardiac disease as predictors of subsequent arrhythmias.
cardiac conduction; QRS duration; atrial fibrillation; genome-wide association study; phenome-wide association study; electronic medical records
Editorials; arrhythmias; cardiac; genetics; humans; pharmacology; stem cells
Responses to drug therapy vary from benefit to no effect to adverse effects which can be serious or occasionally fatal. Increasing evidence supports the idea that genetic variants can play a major role in this spectrum of responses. Well-studied examples in cardiovascular therapeutics include predictors of steady-state warfarin dosage, predictors of reduced efficacy among patients receiving clopidogrel for drug eluting stents, and predictors of some serious adverse drug effects. This review summarizes contemporary approaches to identifying and validating genetic predictors of variability in response to drug treatment. Approaches to incorporating this new knowledge into clinical care, and the barriers to this concept, are addressed.
Purpose of review
To survey genetic variation contributing to variable responsiveness and toxicity to important cardiovascular drugs and highlight recent developments in the field of cardiovascular pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine.
Previously recognized pharmacogenomic associations with drug efficacy have been further validated (e.g. with clopidogrel and warfarin) and shown to influence clinically important outcomes. The clinical significance of variants modulating toxicity (e.g. SLCO1B1 with simvastatin) has also been confirmed. The genetic contribution to variable efficacy and toxicity of other important classes of cardiovascular drugs, such as beta-blockers, is becoming increasingly recognized. Prospective trials testing whether the use of genomic information improves clinical care are underway. Guidance based on the most well-established pharmacogenomic findings has appeared in prescribing labeling and is in the early stages of being implemented into routine clinical care.
Clinically validated gene variants that modulate responsiveness to cardiovascular drugs continue to be discovered and validated. Early steps are underway to translate these discoveries into clinical care.
personalized medicine; pharmacogenomics; variable drug response
Variable function and expression of drug transporters have been proposed as mechanisms contributing to variable response to drug therapy. Block of the HERG channel, encoding IKr, can lead to serious arrhythmias, and a key drug-blocking site in HERG has been identified on the intracellular face of the pore. We begin to advance the hypothesis that active drug uptake enhances IKr block.
Methods and Results
Reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction identified expression in the human atrium and ventricle of 14 of 31 candidate drug uptake and efflux transporters, including OCTN1 (SLC22A4), a known uptake transporter of the HERG channel blocker quinidine. In situ hybridization and immunostaining localized OCTN1 expression to cardiomyocytes. The IC50 for quinidine block of IKr in CHO cells transfected with HERG alone was significantly higher than cells transfected with HERG + OCTN1 (0.66 ± 0.15 μM versus 0.14 ± 0.06 μM [52% absolute increase in drug block; 95% confidence interval, 0.4–0.64 μM]), and this effect was further potentiated by a common genetic variant of OCTN1, L503F. In the absence of OCTN1, quinidine block could be 91% ± 5% washed out, but with the transporter, washout was incomplete (57% ± 6%). OCTN1 coexpression also facilitated HERG block by flecainide and ibutilide, but not erythromycin.
Coexpression of the organic cation transporter, OCTN1, expressed in human cardiac myocytes, intensifies quinidine-induced HERG block. These findings establish a critical hypothesis that variable drug transporter activity may be a potential risk factor for torsade de pointes.
antiarrhythmia agents; arrhythmia; pharmacology; pharmacokinetics; ion channels
While the sodium channel locus SCN10A has been implicated by genome-wide association studies as a modulator of cardiac electrophysiology, the role of its gene product Nav1.8 as a modulator of cardiac ion currents is unknown.
We determined the electrophysiological and pharmacological properties of Nav1.8 in heterologous cell systems and assessed the antiarrhythmic effect of Nav1.8 block on isolated mouse and rabbit ventricular cardiomyocytes.
Methods and results
We first demonstrated that Scn10a transcripts are identified in mouse heart and that the blocker A-803467 is highly specific for Nav1.8 current over that of Nav1.5, the canonical cardiac sodium channel encoded by SCN5A. We then showed that low concentrations of A-803467 selectively block “late” sodium current and shorten action potentials in mouse and rabbit cardiomyocytes. Exaggerated late sodium current is known to mediate arrhythmogenic early afterdepolarizations in heart, and these were similarly suppressed by low concentrations of A-803467.
SCN10A expression contributes to late sodium current in heart, and represents a new target for antiarrhythmic intervention.
SCN10A; sodium channels; heart; afterdepolarizations; arrhythmia
The promise of “personalized medicine” guided by an understanding of each individual’s genome has been fostered by increasingly powerful and economical methods to acquire clinically relevant features. We describe operational implementation of prospective genotyping linked to an advanced clinical decision support system to guide individualized healthcare in a large academic health center. This approach to personalized medicine includes patient and healthcare provider engagement, identifying relevant genetic variation for implementation, assay reliability, point-of-care decision support, and necessary institutional investments. In one year, approximately 3,000 patients, most scheduled for cardiac catheterization, were genotyped on a multiplexed platform including CYP2C19 variants that modulate response to the widely-used antiplatelet drug clopidogrel. These data are deposited into the Electronic Medical Record and point-of-care decision support is deployed when clopidogrel is prescribed for those with variant genotypes. The establishment of programs such as this is a first step toward implementing and evaluating strategies for personalized medicine.
Drug-Drug Interactions; Personalized Medicine; Pharmacogenetics; Translational Medicine; Adverse Drug Reactions
Drug-induced long QT syndrome (diLQTS) is an adverse drug effect that has an important impact on drug use, development, and regulation. Here, we tested the hypothesis that common variants in key genes controlling cardiac electrical properties modify the risk of diLQTS.
Methods and Results
In a case-control setting, we included 176 patients of European descent from North America and Europe with diLQTS, defined as documented torsades de pointes during treatment with a QT prolonging drug. Control samples were obtained from 207 patients of European ancestry who displayed <50 msec QT lengthening during initiation of therapy with a QT-prolonging drug, and 837 controls from the population based KORA study. Subjects were successfully genotyped at 1,424 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 18 candidate genes including 1,386 SNPs tagging common haplotype blocks, and 38 non-synonymous ion channel gene SNPs. For validation we used a set of cases (n=57) and population-based controls of European descent. The SNP KCNE1 D85N (rs1805128), known to modulate an important potassium current in the heart, predicted diLQTS with an odds ratio of 9.0 (95% confidence interval: 3.5–22.9). The variant allele was present in 8.6% of cases, 2.9% of drug-exposed controls, and 1.8% of population controls. In the validation cohort the variant allele was present in 3.5% of cases, and in 1.4% of controls.
This high-density candidate SNP approach identified a key potassium channel susceptibility allele that may be associated with the rare adverse drug reaction torsades de pointes.
candidate genes; death, sudden; SNP; torsade de pointes; adverse drug events
Patients vary in their responses to drug therapy, and some of that variability is genetically-determined. This review outlines general approaches used to identify genetic variation that influences drug response. Examples from specific therapeutic areas are presented: cholesterol management, arrhythmias, heart failure, hypertension, warfarin anticoagulation, and anti-platelet agents. A brief view of potential pathways to implementation is presented.
genetics; pharmacogenetics; pharmacogenomics; drug therapy
The D1275N SCN5A mutation has been associated with a range of unusual phenotypes including conduction disease and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) as well as atrial and ventricular tachyarrhythmias. However, when D1275N is studied in heterologous expression systems, most studies show near-normal sodium channel function. Thus, the relationship of the variant to the clinical phenotypes remains uncertain.
Methods and results
We identified D1275N in a patient with atrial flutter, atrial standstill, conduction disease, and sinus node dysfunction. There was no major difference in biophysical properties between wild-type and D1275N channels expressed in CHO or tsA201 cells in the absence or presence of β1 subunits. To determine D1275N function in vivo, the Scn5a locus was modified to knock out the mouse gene, and the full-length wild-type (H) or D1275N (DN) human SCN5A cDNAs were then inserted at the modified locus using recombinase mediated cassette exchange. Mice carrying the DN allele displayed slow conduction, heart block, atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, and a DCM phenotype, with no significant fibrosis or myocyte disarray on histological examination. The DN allele conferred gene-dose dependent increases in SCN5A mRNA abundance, but reduced sodium channel protein abundance and peak sodium current amplitudes (H/H, −41.0±2.9 pA/pF at −30mV; DN/H, 19.2±3.1 pA/pF, P<0.001 versus H/H; DN/DN, −9.3±1.1 pA/pF, P<0.001 versus H/H).
Although D1275N produces near normal currents in multiple heterologous expression experiments, our data establish this variant as a pathological mutation that generates conduction slowing, arrhythmias, and a DCM phenotype by reducing cardiac sodium current.
genetics; ion channels; cardiomyopathy; electrophysiology
The QT interval, an electrocardiographic measure reflecting myocardial repolarization, is a heritable trait. QT prolongation is a risk factor for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) and could indicate the presence of the potentially lethal Mendelian Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). Using a genome-wide association and replication study in up to 100,000 individuals we identified 35 common variant QT interval loci, that collectively explain ∼8-10% of QT variation and highlight the importance of calcium regulation in myocardial repolarization. Rare variant analysis of 6 novel QT loci in 298 unrelated LQTS probands identified coding variants not found in controls but of uncertain causality and therefore requiring validation. Several newly identified loci encode for proteins that physically interact with other recognized repolarization proteins. Our integration of common variant association, expression and orthogonal protein-protein interaction screens provides new insights into cardiac electrophysiology and identifies novel candidate genes for ventricular arrhythmias, LQTS,and SCD.
genome-wide association study; QT interval; Long QT Syndrome; sudden cardiac death; myocardial repolarization; arrhythmias
Although multiple lines of evidence suggest variable expression of the cardiac sodium channel gene SCN5A plays a role in susceptibility to arrhythmia, little is known about its transcriptional regulation.
We used in silico and in vitro experiments to identify possible non-coding sequences important for transcriptional regulation of SCN5A. The results were extended to mice in which a putative regulatory region was deleted.
Methods and Results
We identified 92 non-coding regions highly conserved (>70%) between human and mouse SCN5A orthologs. Three conserved non-coding sequences (CNS) showed significant (>5-fold) activity in luciferase assays. Further in vitro studies indicated one, CNS28 in intron 1, as potential regulatory region. Using Recombinase-Mediated Cassette Exchange (RMCE), we generated mice in which a 435 bp region encompassing CNS28 was removed. Animals homozygous for the deletion showed significant increases in SCN5A transcripts, NaV1.5 protein abundance, and sodium current measured in isolated ventricular myocytes. ECGs revealed a significantly shorter QRS (10.7±0.2ms in controls vs. 9.7±0.2ms in knockouts) indicating more rapid ventricular conduction. In vitro analysis of CNS28 identified a short 3′ segment within this region required for regulatory activity and including an E-box motif. Deletion of this segment reduced reporter activity to 3.6±0.3% of baseline in CHO cells and 16±3% in myocytes (both P<0.05), and mutation of individual sites in the E-box restored activity to 62±4% and 57±2% of baseline in CHO cells and myocytes, respectively (both P<0.05).
These findings establish that regulation of cardiac sodium channel expression modulates channel function in vivo, and identify a non-coding region underlying this regulation.
Gene Expression Regulation; Sodium Channels; Mice; Transgenic
Genetic variants of the enzyme that metabolizes warfarin, cytochrome P-450 2C9 (CYP2C9), and of a key pharmacologic target of warfarin, vitamin K epoxide reductase (VKORC1), contribute to differences in patients’ responses to various warfarin doses, but the role of these variants during initial anticoagulation is not clear.
In 297 patients starting warfarin therapy, we assessed CYP2C9 genotypes (CYP2C9 *1, *2, and *3), VKORC1 haplotypes (designated A and non-A), clinical characteristics, response to therapy (as determined by the international normalized ratio [INR]), and bleeding events. The study outcomes were the time to the first INR within the therapeutic range, the time to the first INR of more than 4, the time above the therapeutic INR range, the INR response over time, and the warfarin dose requirement.
As compared with patients with the non-A/non-A haplotype, patients with the A/A haplotype of VKORC1 had a decreased time to the first INR within the therapeutic range (P = 0.02) and to the first INR of more than 4 (P = 0.003). In contrast, the CYP2C9 genotype was not a significant predictor of the time to the first INR within the therapeutic range (P = 0.57) but was a significant predictor of the time to the first INR of more than 4 (P = 0.03). Both the CYP2C9 genotype and VKORC1 haplotype had a significant influence on the required warfarin dose after the first 2 weeks of therapy.
Initial variability in the INR response to warfarin was more strongly associated with genetic variability in the pharmacologic target of warfarin, VKORC1, than with CYP2C9.
Calcineurin-inhibitors CI are immunosuppressive agents prescribed to patients after solid organ transplant to prevent rejection. Although these drugs have been transformative for allograft survival, long-term use is complicated by side effects including nephrotoxicity. Given the narrow therapeutic index of CI, therapeutic drug monitoring is used to prevent acute rejection from underdosing and acute toxicity from overdosing, but drug monitoring does not alleviate long-term side effects. Patients on calcineurin-inhibitors for long periods almost universally experience declines in renal function, and a subpopulation of transplant recipients ultimately develop chronic kidney disease that may progress to end stage renal disease attributable to calcineurin inhibitor toxicity (CNIT). Pharmacogenomics has the potential to identify patients who are at high risk for developing advanced chronic kidney disease caused by CNIT and providing them with existing alternate immunosuppressive therapy. In this study we utilized BioVU, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s DNA biorepository linked to de-identified electronic medical records to identify a cohort of 115 heart transplant recipients prescribed calcineurin-inhibitors to identify genetic risk factors for CNIT We identified 37 cases of nephrotoxicity in our cohort, defining nephrotoxicity as a monthly median estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) < 30 mL/min/1.73m2 at least six months post-transplant for at least three consecutive months. All heart transplant patients were genotyped on the Illumina ADME Core Panel, a pharmacogenomic genotyping platform that assays 184 variants across 34 genes. In Cox regression analysis adjusting for age at transplant, pre-transplant chronic kidney disease, pre-transplant diabetes, and the three most significant principal components (PCAs), we did not identify any markers that met our multiple-testing threshold. As a secondary analysis we also modeled post-transplant eGFR directly with linear mixed models adjusted for age at transplant, cyclosporine use, median BMI, and the three most significant principal components. While no SNPs met our threshold for significance, a SNP previously identified in genetic studies of the dosing of tacrolimus CYP3A5 rs776746, replicated in an adjusted analysis at an uncorrected p-value of 0.02 (coeff(S.E.) = 14.60(6.41)). While larger independent studies will be required to further validate this finding, this study underscores the EMRs usefulness as a resource for longitudinal pharmacogenetic study designs.
Postoperative atrial fibrillation (PoAF) after cardiac surgery is
common and associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Increased
sympathetic activation after surgery contributes to PoAF, and beta-blockers
are the first-line recommendation for its prevention. We examined the
hypothesis that common functional genetic variants in the
β1-adrenoreceptor, the mediator of cardiac sympathetic
activation and drug target of beta-blockers, are associated with the risk
for PoAF and with the protective effect of beta-blockers.
In a prospective cohort study, we studied 947 adult European
Americans who underwent cardiac surgery at Vanderbilt University between
1999-2005. We genotyped two variants in the
β1-adrenoreceptor, rs1801253 (Arg389Gly) and rs1801252
(Ser49Gly), and used logistic regression to examine the association between
genotypes and PoAF occurring within 14 days after surgery, before and after
adjustment for demographic and clinical covariates.
PoAF occurred in 239 patients (25.2%) and was associated with
rs1801253 genotype (adjusted P=0.008), with Gly389Gly having an odds ratio
of 2.63 (95% confidence interval, 1.42 to 4.89) for PoAF compared to the
common Arg389Arg (P=0.002). In a predefined subgroup analysis, this
association appeared to be stronger among patients without beta-blocker
prophylaxis (adjusted OR=7.00; 95% CI, 1.82 to 26.96; P=0.005) compared to
patients with beta-blocker prophylaxis, among whom the association between
rs1801253 genotype and PoAF was not statistically significant (adjusted
The Gly389 variant in the β1-adrenoreceptor is
associated with PoAF, and this association appears to be modulated by
beta-blocker therapy. Future studies of the association of other adrenergic
pathway genes with PoAF will be of interest.
Platelets are enucleated cell fragments derived from megakaryocytes that play key roles in hemostasis and in the pathogenesis of atherothrombosis and cancer. Platelet traits are highly heritable and identification of genetic variants associated with platelet traits and assessing their pleiotropic effects may help to understand the role of underlying biological pathways. We conducted an electronic medical record (EMR)-based study to identify common variants that influence inter-individual variation in the number of circulating platelets (PLT) and mean platelet volume (MPV), by performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS). We characterized association of variants influencing MPV and PLT using functional, pathway and disease enrichment analysis assess pleiotropic effects of such variants by performing a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) with a wide range of EMR-derived phenotypes. A total of 13,582 participants in the electronic MEdical Records and GEnomic (eMERGE) network had data for PLT and 6,291 participants had data for MPV. We identified 5 chromosomal regions associated with PLT and 8 associated with MPV at genome-wide significance (P<5E-8). In addition, we replicated 20 SNPs (out of 56 SNPs (α: 0.05/56=9E-4)) influencing PLT and 22 SNPs (out of 29 SNPs (α: 0.05/29=2E-3)) influencing MPV in a meta-analysis of GWAS of PLT and MPV. While our GWAS did not reveal any novel associations, our functional analyses revealed that genes in these regions influence thrombopoiesis and encode kinases, membrane proteins, proteins involved in cellular trafficking, transcription factors, proteasome complex subunits, proteins of signal transduction pathways, proteins involved in megakaryocyte development and platelet production and hemostasis. PheWAS using a single-SNP Bonferroni correction for 1368 diagnoses (0.05/1368=3.6E-5) revealed that several variants in these genes have pleiotropic associations with myocardial infarction, autoimmune and hematologic disorders. We conclude that multiple genetic loci influence interindividual variation in platelet traits and also have significant pleiotropic effects; the related genes are in multiple functional pathways including those relevant to thrombopoiesis.
Rare variants in candidate atrial fibrillation (AF) genes have been associated with AF in small kindreds. The extent to which such polymorphisms contribute to AF is unknown.
The purpose of this study was to determine the spectrum and prevalence of rare amino acid coding (AAC) variants in candidate AF genes in a large cohort of unrelated lone AF probands.
We resequenced 45 candidate genes in 303 European American (EA) lone AF probands (186 lone AF probands screened for each gene on average [range 89–303], 63 screened for all) identified in the Vanderbilt AF Registry (2002–2012). Variants detected were screened against 4300 EAs from the Exome Sequencing Project (ESP) to identify very rare (minor allele frequency ≤ 0.04%) AAC variants and these were tested for AF co-segregation in affected family members where possible.
Median age at AF onset was 46.0 years [interquartile range 33.0–54.0], and 35.6% had a family history of AF. Overall, 63 very rare AAC variants were identified in 60 of 303 lone AF probands, and 10 of 19 (52.6%) had evidence of co-segregation with AF. Among the 63 lone AF probands who had 45 genes screened, the very rare variant burden was 22%. Compared with the 4300 EA ESP, the proportion of lone AF probands with a very rare AAC variant in CASQ2 and NKX2-5 was increased 3–5-fold (P < .05).
No very rare AAC variants were identified in ~80% of lone AF probands. Potential reasons for the lack of very rare AAC variants include a complex pattern of inheritance, variants in as yet unidentified AF genes or in noncoding regions, and environmental factors.
Atrial fibrillation arrhythmia; Candidate genes; Family study; Genetic variation; Genetic epidemiology; Proarrhythmia; Rare variants
Progressive familial heart block type I (PFHBI) is a hereditary arrhythmia characterized by progressive conduction disturbances in the His-Purkinje system. PFHBI has been linked to genes such as SCN5A that influence cardiac excitability, but not to genes that influence cell-to-cell communication. Our goal was to explore whether nucleotide substitutions in genes coding for connexin proteins would associate with clinical cases of PFHBI and if so, to establish a genotype-cell phenotype correlation for that mutation.
Methods and Results
We screened 156 probands afflicted with PFHBI. In addition to 12 sodium channel mutations, we found a germline GJA5 (connexin40; Cx40) mutation (Q58L) in an afflicted family. Heterologous expression of Cx40-Q58L in connexin-deficient neuroblastoma cells resulted in marked reduction of junctional conductance (Cx40-WT: 22.2±1.7 nS, n=14; Cx40-Q58L: 0.56±0.34 nS, n=14; p<0.001) and diffuse localization of immunoreactive proteins in the vicinity of the plasma membrane without formation of gap junctions. Heteromeric co-transfection of Cx40-WT and Cx40-Q58L resulted in homogenous distribution of proteins in the plasma membrane rather than in membrane plaques in about 50% of cells; well-defined gap junctions were observed in other cells. Junctional conductance values correlated with the distribution of gap junction plaques.
Mutation Cx40-Q58L impairs gap junction formation at cell-cell interfaces. This is the first demonstration of a germline mutation in a connexin gene that associates with inherited ventricular arrhythmias, and emphasizes the importance of Cx40 in normal propagation in the specialized conduction system.
heart block; genes; ion channels; sudden death; gap junctions
Large-scale biorepositories that couple biologic specimens with electronic health records containing documentation of phenotypic expression can accelerate scientific research and discovery. However, differences between those subjects who participate in biorepository-based research and the population from which they are drawn may influence research validity. While an opt-out approach to biorepository-based research enhances inclusiveness, empirical research evaluating voluntariness, risk, and the feasibility of an opt-out approach is sparse, and factors influencing patients’ decisions to opt out are understudied. Determining why patients choose to opt out may help to improve voluntariness, however there may be ethical and logistical challenges to studying those who opt out. In this perspective paper, the authors explore what is known about research based on the opt-out model, describe a large-scale biorepository that leverages the opt-out model, and review specific ethical and logistical challenges to bridging the research gaps that remain.
Medical Records Systems, Computerized; Medical Informatics Computing; Informed Consent; Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.; Biorepositories; Biomedical Ethics
A prolonged QT interval is associated with increased risk of Torsades de pointes (TdP) and may be fatal. We sought to investigate the extent to which clinical covariates affect the change in QT interval among ‘real-world’ patients treated with sotalol and followed in an electronic medical record (EMR) system.
Methods and results
We used clinical alerts in our EMR system to identify all patients in whom a new prescription for sotalol was written (2001–11). Rate-corrected QT (QTc) was calculated by Bazett's formula. Correlates of sotalol-induced change in the QTc interval and sotalol discontinuation were examined using linear and logistic regression, respectively. Overall, 541 sotalol-exposed patients were identified (n = 200 women, 37%). The mean first sotalol dose was 86 ± 39 mg, age 64 ± 13 years, and BMI 30 ± 7 kg/m2. Atrial fibrillation/flutter was the predominant indication (92.2%). After initial exposure, the change in the QTc interval from baseline was highly variable: ΔQTc after 2 h = 3 ± 42 ms (P = 0.17) and 11 ± 37 ms after ≥48 h (P < 0.001). Multivariable linear regression analysis identified female gender and age, reduced left ventricular ejection fraction, high sotalol dose, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and loop diuretic co-administration as correlates of increased ΔQTc at ≥48 h (P < 0.05 for all). Within 3 days of initiation, 12% discontinued sotalol of which 31% were because of exaggerated QTc prolongation. One percent developed TdP.
In this EMR-based cohort, the increase in QTc with sotalol initiation was highly variable, and multiple clinical factors contributed. These data represent an important step in ongoing work to identify real-world patients likely to tolerate long-term therapy and reinforces the utility of EMR-based cohorts as research tools.
Arrhythmia; Long QT syndrome; Torsades de pointes; Beta-blocker; Atrial fibrillation; Electronic medical records
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) hormone levels are normally tightly regulated within an individual; thus, relatively small variations may indicate thyroid disease. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified variants in PDE8B and FOXE1 that are associated with TSH levels. However, prior studies lacked racial/ethnic diversity, limiting the generalization of these findings to individuals of non-European ethnicities. The Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network is a collaboration across institutions with biobanks linked to electronic medical records (EMRs). The eMERGE Network uses EMR-derived phenotypes to perform GWAS in diverse populations for a variety of phenotypes. In this report, we identified serum TSH levels from 4,501 European American and 351 African American euthyroid individuals in the eMERGE Network with existing GWAS data. Tests of association were performed using linear regression and adjusted for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and principal components, assuming an additive genetic model. Our results replicate the known association of PDE8B with serum TSH levels in European Americans (rs2046045 p = 1.85×10−17, β = 0.09). FOXE1 variants, associated with hypothyroidism, were not genome-wide significant (rs10759944: p = 1.08×10−6, β = −0.05). No SNPs reached genome-wide significance in African Americans. However, multiple known associations with TSH levels in European ancestry were nominally significant in African Americans, including PDE8B (rs2046045 p = 0.03, β = −0.09), VEGFA (rs11755845 p = 0.01, β = −0.13), and NFIA (rs334699 p = 1.50×10−3, β = −0.17). We found little evidence that SNPs previously associated with other thyroid-related disorders were associated with serum TSH levels in this study. These results support the previously reported association between PDE8B and serum TSH levels in European Americans and emphasize the need for additional genetic studies in more diverse populations.