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Lancet. 2001 Nov 10;358(9293):1627-37.

Cardiomyopathies: from genetics to the prospect of treatment.

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Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik Grosshadern, Klinikum der Universität München, München, Germany.


Cardiomyopathies are defined as diseases of the myocardium associated with cardiac dysfunction ranging from lifelong symptomless forms to major health problems such as progressive heart failure, arrhythmia, thromboembolism, and sudden cardiac death. They are classified by morphological characteristics as hypertrophic (HCM), dilated (DCM), arrhythmogenic right ventricular (ARVC), and restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM). A familial cause has been shown in 50% of patients with HCM, 35% with DCM, and 30% with ARVC. In HCM, nine genetic loci and more than 130 mutations in ten different sarcomeric genes and in the gamma 2 subunit of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) have been identified, suggesting impaired force production associated with inefficient use of ATP as the crucial disease mechanism. In DCM, 16 chromosomal loci with defects of several proteins also involved in the development of skeletal myopathies have been detected. These mutated cytoskeletal and nuclear transporter proteins may alter force transmission or disrupt nuclear function, resulting in cell death. Further DCM mutations have also been identified in sarcomeric genes, which indicates that different defects of the same protein can result in either HCM or DCM. In ARVC, six genetic loci and mutations in the cardiac ryanodine receptor, which controls electromechanical coupling, and in plakoglobin and desmoglobin (molecules involved in desmosomal cell-junction integrity), have been identified. Yet, no genetic linkage has been shown in RCM. Apart from disease-causing mutations, other factors, such as environment, genetic background, and the recently identified modifier genes of the renin-angiotensin, adrenergic, and endothelin systems are likely to result in the wide variety of RCM clinical presentations. Treatment options are symptomatic and are mainly focused on treatment of heart failure and prevention of thromboembolism and sudden death. Identification of patients with high risk for major arrhythmic events is important because implantable cardioverter defibrillators can prevent sudden death. Clinical and genetic risk stratification may lead to prospective trials of primary implantation of cardioverter defibrillators in people with hereditary cardiomyopathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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