Outcome of clinical versus genetic family screening in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with focus on cardiac beta-myosin gene mutations

Ole Havndrup, Henning Bundgaard, Paal Skytt Andersen, Lars Allan Larsen, Jens Vuust, Keld Kjeldsen, Michael Christiansen
Cardiovascular Research 2003, 57 (2): 347-57

OBJECTIVE: Familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (FHC) is caused by mutations in genes encoding cardiac sarcomere proteins. Although available, genetic analyses are generally not used clinically. In the present study, we evaluated the outcome of clinical vs. genetic screening of family members with specific focus on mutations in the cardiac beta-myosin heavy chain (MYH7) gene.

METHODS: A consecutive cohort of 68 FHC probands and their families (395 persons) of Danish origin was evaluated including patient- and family histories, physical examinations, electrocardiogram and echocardiography. Mutation screening was performed by a combination of single strand conformation/heteroduplex analysis and direct sequencing.

RESULTS: Eight different MYH7 gene mutations were identified in nine (13%) families (96 persons). In eight (89%) of the families, major cardiac events had occurred. Myectomy or percutaneous septal alcohol ablation had been performed in a higher number of MYH7 probands i.e. in five of nine (56%) as compared to 10 of 59 (17%) (P<0.05) non-MYH7 mutation probands. Neither echocardiographic nor ECG findings were useful to distinguish MYH7 from non-MYH7 probands. Between adult MYH7 mutation-carriers (n=38) and their non-carrier relatives (n=39), low sensitivity and specificity of the clinical diagnostic criteria tested were observed and minor clinical diagnostic criteria alone were not useful for identification of mutation carriers. By genetic screening of relatives with no or only minor hypertrophy on echocardiography, i.e. a priori possible mutation-carriers normally recommended clinical follow-up-the diagnosis was excluded in 52 (83%) persons. In addition, six relatives with secondary hypertrophy were identified as non-carriers.

CONCLUSION: Neither echocardiographic nor ECG findings were useful to distinguish MYH7 from non-MYH7 probands. Extension of screening to include genetic analyses offered a marked diagnostic advantage as compared to clinical screening alone in FHC families.

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