Left ventricular non-compaction revisited: a distinct phenotype with genetic heterogeneity?

Erwin Oechslin, Rolf Jenni
European Heart Journal 2011, 32 (12): 1446-56
Non-compaction of the left ventricular myocardium (LVNC) has gained increasing recognition during the last 25 years. There is a morphological trait of the myocardial structure with a spectrum from normal variants to the pathological phenotype of LVNC, which reflects the embryogenic structure of the human heart due to an arrest in the compaction process during the first trimester. It must be cautioned not to overdiagnose LVNC: the morphological spectrum of trabeculations, from normal variants to pathological trabeculations with the morphological feature of LVNC must be carefully considered. The classical triad of complications are heart failure, arrhythmias, including sudden cardiac death, and systemic embolic events. Non-compaction of the left ventricular myocardium can occur in isolation or in association with congenital heart defects (CHDs), genetic syndromes, and neuromuscular disorders among others. The clinical spectrum is wide and the outcome is more favourable than in previously described populations with a negative selection bias. Familial occurrence is frequent with autosomal dominant and X-linked transmissions. Different mutations in sarcomere protein genes were identified and there seems to be a shared molecular aetiology of different cardiomyopathic phenotypes, including LVNC, hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathies. Thus, genetic heterogeneity, with an overlap of different phenotypes, and the variability of hereditary patterns, raise the questions whether there is a morphological trait from dilated/hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to LVNC and what are the triggers and modifiers to develop either dilated, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or LVNC in patients with the same mutation. The variety in clinical presentation, the genetic heterogeneity, and the phenotype of the first transgenetic animal model of an LVNC-associated mutation question the hypothesis that LVNC be a distinct cardiomyopathy: it seems to be rather a distinct phenotype or phenotypic, morphological expression of different underlying diseases than a distinct cardiomyopathy.

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