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Concept: Long QT syndrome


Sudden cardiac death exhibits diurnal variation in both acquired and hereditary forms of heart disease, but the molecular basis of this variation is unknown. A common mechanism that underlies susceptibility to ventricular arrhythmias is abnormalities in the duration (for example, short or long QT syndromes and heart failure) or pattern (for example, Brugada’s syndrome) of myocardial repolarization. Here we provide molecular evidence that links circadian rhythms to vulnerability in ventricular arrhythmias in mice. Specifically, we show that cardiac ion-channel expression and QT-interval duration (an index of myocardial repolarization) exhibit endogenous circadian rhythmicity under the control of a clock-dependent oscillator, krüppel-like factor 15 (Klf15). Klf15 transcriptionally controls rhythmic expression of Kv channel-interacting protein 2 (KChIP2), a critical subunit required for generating the transient outward potassium current. Deficiency or excess of Klf15 causes loss of rhythmic QT variation, abnormal repolarization and enhanced susceptibility to ventricular arrhythmias. These findings identify circadian transcription of ion channels as a mechanism for cardiac arrhythmogenesis.

Concepts: Cardiology, Heart, Sleep, Cardiac arrest, Cardiac electrophysiology, Long QT syndrome, Circadian rhythm, Sudden cardiac death


Cardiopulmonary complications are the leading cause of mortality in sickle cell anemia (SCA). Elevated tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity, pulmonary hypertension, diastolic, and autonomic dysfunction have all been described, but a unifying pathophysiology and mechanism explaining the poor prognosis and propensity to sudden death has been elusive. Herein, SCA mice underwent a longitudinal comprehensive cardiac analysis, combining state-of-the-art cardiac imaging with electrocardiography, histopathology, and molecular analysis to determine the basis of cardiac dysfunction. We show that in SCA mice, anemia-induced hyperdynamic physiology was gradually superimposed with restrictive physiology, characterized by progressive left atrial enlargement and diastolic dysfunction with preserved systolic function. This phenomenon was absent in WT mice with experimentally induced chronic anemia of similar degree and duration. Restrictive physiology was associated with microscopic cardiomyocyte loss and secondary fibrosis detectable as increased extracellular volume by cardiac-MRI. Ultrastructural mitochondrial changes were consistent with severe chronic hypoxia/ischemia and sarcomere diastolic-length was shortened. Transcriptome analysis revealed up-regulation of genes involving angiogenesis, extracellular-matrix, circadian-rhythm, oxidative stress, and hypoxia, whereas ion-channel transport and cardiac conduction were down-regulated. Indeed, progressive corrected QT prolongation, arrhythmias, and ischemic changes were noted in SCA mice before sudden death. Sudden cardiac death is common in humans with restrictive cardiomyopathies and long QT syndromes. Our findings may thus provide a unifying cardiac pathophysiology that explains the reported cardiac abnormalities and sudden death seen in humans with SCA.

Concepts: Red blood cell, Cardiology, Heart, Blood pressure, Cardiac arrest, Long QT syndrome, Sickle-cell disease, Sudden cardiac death


Short-coupled variant of torsade de pointes (TdP) is an uncommon variant of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia with unknown etiology. It is initiated by a closely coupled premature ventricular complex (<300 ms) in the absence of QT prolongation and structural heart disease. Verapamil seems to be the only drug able to suppress the arrhythmia but, as it does not reduce the risk of sudden death, implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is recommended. We describe the case of a 46-year-old woman referred to our Emergency Department because of palpitations. The initial ECG showed a non-sustained polymorphic ventricular tachycardia with a borderline QTc interval (450 ms). After admission, the patient experienced an episode of TdP that started after short-coupling interval (280 ms) between the last sinus beat and the ventricular premature beat (VPB). DC-shock restored sinus rhythm. Physical examination, exercise testing, echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance were all normal, and she had no family history of sudden cardiac death. Baseline ECG showed sinus rhythm and unifocal VPBs with the same morphology of the VPB of TdP. The patient received an ICD and was treated medically with verapamil. She was discharged from the hospital on oral therapy with verapamil (240 mg/day), and she was free of recurrence 12 months later when an electrical storm occurred. The verapamil dose was therefore increased to 480 mg/day. Unifocal VPBs disappeared from her body surface ECG, and the subsequent 3-year follow-up was uneventful.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Cardiac electrophysiology, Long QT syndrome, QT interval, Ventricular tachycardia, Ventricular fibrillation, Premature ventricular contraction


The study was designed to assess the ability of computer-simulated electrocardiography parameters to predict clinical outcomes and to risk-stratify patients with long QT syndrome type 1 (LQT1).

Concepts: Cardiac electrophysiology, Long QT syndrome, Short QT syndrome, QT interval, Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome


Patients on methadone maintenance therapy are somehow similar to patients with congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS) because they have malfunction of potassium channels caused by a drug that cannot be easily discontinued. We tested patients on methadone therapy with the “stand-up” test, which has been shown to unravel pathologic QT-prolongation in congenital long-QT patients.

Concepts: Cardiology, Cardiac electrophysiology, Long QT syndrome, Short QT syndrome, QT interval, Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome, HERG, Methadone


The mind-boggling progress in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the long QT syndrome (LQTS) has been the subject of many articles and reviews. Still, when it comes to the management of the patients affected by this life-threatening disorder, too many errors still take place, both in the diagnostic process and in the therapeutic choices. The price of these errors is paid by the patients and their families. This review is not directed to the relatively small number of LQTS experts who know what to do. It does not deal with genetics, with epidemiology, or with the well-known clinical manifestations. We have focused solely on the approach to diagnosis and therapy and we have directed this review to the average clinical cardiologist who, in his/her practice, sees occasionally patients affected or suspected to be affected by LQTS; the cardiologist who may know enough to manage them but not enough to be completely confident on his/her most critical choices. We have provided our personal views without making any attempt to blend differences whenever present. On most issues we agree fully but where we do not, we make it clear to the reader by indicating who is thinking what. The result may be unconventional, but it mirrors the challenges, often severe, that we all face in managing and protecting these patients from sudden death while also helping them live and thrive despite their diagnosis. We trust that this unabashed presentation of our clinical approach will be useful for both cardiologists and patients.

Concepts: Medicine, Cardiology, Long QT syndrome, Short QT syndrome, QT interval, Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome, Management, Ventricular tachycardia


Increased levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) are associated with prolongation of the action potential in ventricular myocardium. We investigated the relation of a BNP increase, QT interval, and sudden cardiac death (SCD) in the presence of heart failure (HF). We enrolled 398 patients with HF, New York Heart Association class III or IV, and left ventricular ejection fraction <40%. At baseline and after 3 months, we measured BNP and the QT interval. A BNP increase was defined as a change in BNP of ≥+10%. The QTc interval was calculated using the Bazett formula. QTc interval prolongation was defined as a change in QTc of ≥+10%. The patients were followed up for 1 year. During a 3-month period, BNP increased significantly in 53% of the patients (group 1) and did not in 47% (group 2). During the same period, the QTc interval was more prolonged in group 1 (+44 ± 12 ms) than in group 2 (+7 ± 6 ms; p = 0.01). During 1 year of follow-up, 20 patients died suddenly (SCD), 16 from pump failure. Although the SCD rates did not differ between the 2 groups (5.7% in group 1 vs 4.2% in group 2, p = 0.53), they were significantly greater in the patients in group 1 with QTc interval prolongation ≥+10% (13.8%, p <0.001). The Kaplan-Meier-derived SCD-free survival rates were 2.9 times greater in patients without QTc interval prolongation than in those with prolonged QTc (p <0.001). QTc interval prolongation was an independent correlate of SCD (p = 0.006), but BNP increase was not (p = 0.32). In conclusion, a BNP increase in patients with HF was associated with an increased risk of SCD only in patients with QTc interval prolongation.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart failure, Ejection fraction, Heart, Long QT syndrome, QT interval, Sudden cardiac death


CACNA1C mutations have been reported to cause LQTS type 8 (LQT8; Timothy syndrome), which exhibits severe phenotypes, although the frequency of patients with LQT8 exhibiting only QT prolongation is unknown. This study aimed to elucidate the frequency of CACNA1C mutations in patients with long QT syndrome (LQTS), except those with Timothy syndrome and investigate phenotypic variants.METHODS AND RESULTS: CACNA1C gene screening was performed in 278 probands negative for LQTS-related gene mutations. Functional analysis of mutant channels using a whole-cell patch-clamp technique was also performed. Using genetic screening, we identified five novel CACNA1C mutations: P381S, M456I, A582D, R858H, and G1783C in seven (2.5%) unrelated probands. Seven mutation carriers showed alternative clinical phenotypes. Biophysical assay of CACNA1C mutations revealed that the peak calcium currents were significantly larger in R858H mutant channels than those of wild-type (WT). In contrast, A582D mutant channels displayed significantly slower inactivation compared with WT. The two mutant channels exerted different gain-of-function effects on calcium currents.CONCLUSION: In patients with LQTS, the frequency of CACNA1C mutations was higher than reported. Even without typical phenotypes of Timothy syndrome, CACNA1C mutations may cause QT prolongation and/or fatal arrhythmia attacks.

Concepts: Gene, Mutation, Long QT syndrome, Short QT syndrome, QT interval, Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome, Channelopathy, HERG


Propranolol in slow-release form has been the first-line treatment in LQT until it was withdrawn from the market..We describe two cases where a switch to bisoprolol resulted in worsening of arrhythmia control: A man with LQT2, asymptomatic on propranolol, experienced syncope after switching to bisoprolol 5mg daily. He switched back to propranolol and has remained asymptomatic during subsequent 12 months. A man with classical Jervell Lange-Nielsen syndrome, previous gangliectomy and ICD-implantation, switched to bisoprolol 5mg daily. Four months later he experienced a tachycardia storm. He switched back to propranolol and has remained free from arrhythmias during subsequent 12 months. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Cardiac electrophysiology, Long QT syndrome, Syndromes, Supraventricular tachycardia, All rights reserved, All rights reversed, Copyright, Cardiac dysrhythmia


Cardiac arrhythmias are often associated with mutations in ion channels or other proteins. To enable drug development for distinct arrhythmias, model systems are required that allow implementing patient-specific mutations. We assessed a muscular pump in Caenorhabditis elegans. The pharynx utilizes homologues of most of the ion channels, pumps and transporters defining human cardiac physiology. To yield precise rhythmicity, we optically paced the pharynx using channelrhodopsin-2. We assessed pharynx pumping by extracellular recordings (electropharyngeograms-EPGs), and by a novel video-microscopy based method we developed, which allows analyzing multiple animals simultaneously. Mutations in the L-type VGCC (voltage-gated Ca(2+)-channel) EGL-19 caused prolonged pump duration, as found for analogous mutations in the Cav1.2 channel, associated with long QT syndrome. egl-19 mutations affected ability to pump at high frequency and induced arrhythmicity. The pharyngeal neurons did not influence these effects. We tested whether drugs could ameliorate arrhythmia in the optogenetically paced pharynx. The dihydropyridine analog Nemadipine A prolonged pump duration in wild type, and reduced or prolonged pump duration of distinct egl-19 alleles, thus indicating allele-specific effects. In sum, our model may allow screening of drug candidates affecting specific VGCCs mutations, and permit to better understand the effects of distinct mutations on a macroscopic level.

Concepts: Neuron, Medical emergencies, Caenorhabditis elegans, Model organism, Cardiac arrest, Cardiac electrophysiology, Long QT syndrome, Cardiac dysrhythmia