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Basic Res Cardiol. 2013 Nov;108(6):387. doi: 10.1007/s00395-013-0387-4. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

Role of genetic polymorphisms of ion channels in the pathophysiology of coronary microvascular dysfunction and ischemic heart disease.

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Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Nephrology, Anesthesiology and Geriatric Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Umberto I Policlinic, Viale del Policlinico 155, 00161, Rome, Italy,


Conventionally, ischemic heart disease (IHD) is equated with large vessel coronary disease. However, recent evidence has suggested a role of compromised microvascular regulation in the etiology of IHD. Because regulation of coronary blood flow likely involves activity of specific ion channels, and key factors involved in endothelium-dependent dilation, we proposed that genetic anomalies of ion channels or specific endothelial regulators may underlie coronary microvascular disease. We aimed to evaluate the clinical impact of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in genes encoding for ion channels expressed in the coronary vasculature and the possible correlation with IHD resulting from microvascular dysfunction. 242 consecutive patients who were candidates for coronary angiography were enrolled. A prospective, observational, single-center study was conducted, analyzing genetic polymorphisms relative to (1) NOS3 encoding for endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS); (2) ATP2A2 encoding for the Ca²⁺/H⁺-ATPase pump (SERCA); (3) SCN5A encoding for the voltage-dependent Na⁺ channel (Nav1.5); (4) KCNJ8 and KCNJ11 encoding for the Kir6.1 and Kir6.2 subunits of K-ATP channels, respectively; and (5) KCN5A encoding for the voltage-gated K⁺ channel (Kv1.5). No significant associations between clinical IHD manifestations and polymorphisms for SERCA, Kir6.1, and Kv1.5 were observed (p > 0.05), whereas specific polymorphisms detected in eNOS, as well as in Kir6.2 and Nav1.5 were found to be correlated with IHD and microvascular dysfunction. Interestingly, genetic polymorphisms for ion channels seem to have an important clinical impact influencing the susceptibility for microvascular dysfunction and IHD, independent of the presence of classic cardiovascular risk factors.

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