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      Clinical Heterogeneity in Sodium Channelopathies

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          Background: Mutations in the SCN5A gene have been linked to a variety of diseases causing sudden cardiac death, with important variability in expressivity and phenotypic overlap. With the availability of genetic testing family members may now be diagnosed as carriers based solely on the presence of the genetic defect. Clinical decision making in this situation is complex and generates important ethical and medicolegal issues. Methods:Wedescribe two families, 24-328 and 24-588, originally diagnosed with Brugada syndrome after the probands experienced cardiac arrest and we performed clinical and genetic analysis in their members. Results: Both families had members with various electrocardiographic abnormalities including some with Brugada syndrome, long QT syndrome and conduction system disease. Both families had an important family history of sudden cardiac death. Direct sequencing of exons and exon-intron boundaries of the sodium channel gene SCN5A identified mutations in both families. Conclusions: These two families illustrate an increasingly common scenario when encountering families with ion channelopathies. Because a defibrillator is the only available therapeutic option at present in Brugada syndrome, physicians will be faced with extremely difficult therapeutic decisions that also have important legal, social and ethical implications, especially in children. These data indicate the need to develop guidelines on how to approach the results of genetic testing, especially in asymptomatic individuals.

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          SCN5A mutations associated with an inherited cardiac arrhythmia, long QT syndrome.

          Long QT syndrome (LQT) is an inherited disorder that causes sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias, specifically torsade de pointes and ventricular fibrillation. We previously mapped three LQT loci: LQT1 on chromosome 11p15.5, LQT2 on 7q35-36, and LQT3 on 3p21-24. Here we report genetic linkage between LQT3 and polymorphisms within SCN5A, the cardiac sodium channel gene. Single strand conformation polymorphism and DNA sequence analyses reveal identical intragenic deletions of SCN5A in affected members of two unrelated LQT families. The deleted sequences reside in a region that is important for channel inactivation. These data suggest that mutations in SCN5A cause chromosome 3-linked LQT and indicate a likely cellular mechanism for this disorder.
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            Hydroquinidine therapy in Brugada syndrome.

            We sought to assess hydroquinidine (HQ) efficacy in selected patients with Brugada syndrome (BrS). Management of asymptomatic patients with BrS and inducible arrhythmias remains a key issue. Effectiveness of class Ia antiarrhythmic drugs, which inhibit the potassium transient outward current of the action potential, has been suggested in BrS. From a cohort of 106 BrS patients, we studied 35 who received HQ (32 men; mean age 48 +/- 11 years). Patients had asymptomatic BrS and inducible arrhythmia (n = 31) or multiple appropriate shocks from an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) (n = 4). Asymptomatic patients with inducible arrhythmia underwent electrophysiologic (EP)-guided therapy. When ventricular tachycardia (VT)/ventricular fibrillation (VF) inducibility was not prevented, or in case of HQ intolerance, an ICD was placed. Hydroquinidine prevented VT/VF inducibility in 76% of asymptomatic patients who underwent EP-guided therapy. Syncope occurred in two of the 21 patients who received long-term (17 +/- 13 months) HQ therapy (1 syncope associated with QT interval prolongation and 1 unexplained syncope associated with probable noncompliance). In asymptomatic patients who received an ICD (n = 10), one appropriate shock occurred during a follow-up period of 13 +/- 8 months. In patients with multiple ICD shocks, HQ prevented VT/VF recurrence in all cases during a mean follow-up of 14 +/- 8 months. Hydroquinidine therapy prevented VT/VF inducibility in 76% of asymptomatic patients with BrS and inducible arrhythmia, as well as VT/VF recurrence in all BrS patients with multiple ICD shocks. These preliminary data suggest that preventive treatment by HQ may be an alternative strategy to ICD placement in asymptomatic patients with BrS and inducible arrhythmia.
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              Value of electrocardiographic parameters and ajmaline test in the diagnosis of Brugada syndrome caused by SCN5A mutations.

              The Brugada syndrome is an arrhythmogenic disease caused in part by mutations in the cardiac sodium channel gene, SCN5A. The electrocardiographic pattern characteristic of the syndrome is dynamic and is often absent in affected individuals. Sodium channel blockers are effective in unmasking carriers of the disease. However, the value of the test remains controversial. We studied 147 individuals representing 4 large families with SCN5A mutations. Of these, 104 were determined to be at possible risk for Brugada syndrome and underwent both electrocardiographic and genetic evaluation. Twenty-four individuals displayed an ECG diagnostic of Brugada syndrome at baseline. Of the remaining, 71 received intravenous ajmaline. Of the 35 genetic carriers who received ajmaline, 28 had a positive test and 7 a negative ajmaline test. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of the drug challenge were 80% (28:35), 94.4% (34:36), 93.3% (28:30), and 82.9% (34:41), respectively. Penetrance of the disease phenotype increased from 32.7% to 78.6% with the use of sodium channel blockers. In the absence of ST-segment elevation under baseline conditions, a prolonged P-R interval, but not incomplete right bundle-branch block or early repolarization patterns, indicates a high probability of an SCN5A mutation carrier. In families with Brugada syndrome, the data suggest that ajmaline testing is valuable in the diagnosis of SCN5A carriers. In the absence of ST-segment elevation at baseline, family members with first-degree atrioventricular block should be suspected of carrying the mutation. An ajmaline test is often the key to making the proper diagnosis in these patients.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                April 2008
                31 October 2007
                : 110
                : 2
                : 116-122
                aCatholic University, School of Medicine, Rome, Italy; bDepartment of Cardiology, St. Louis University Hospital, St. Louis, Mo., USA; cCardiology Section, Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Jiangxi, China; dCardiology Division, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, N.Y., USA; eDepartment of Cardiology, Academic Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands; fPediatric Cardiology Associates, Tampa, Fla., USA; gArrhythmia Unit, Hospital Clinic Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; hDepartment of Cardiology, Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium; iMontreal Heart Institute, Montreal Que., Canada
                110490 Cardiology 2008;110:116–122
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, References: 13, Pages: 7
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