Background: The ryanodine receptor of the skeletal muscle (RYR1) seems to be of outstanding importance in the pathogenesis of malignant hyperthermia (MH). It has been shown that point mutations in the RYR1 gene are strongly associated with the MH phenotype. A correctly determined phenotype is the basic prerequisite for adequate genetic MH screening. In this study we examined only those MH susceptible patients for the presence of potential RYR1 mutations who showed strong pathological muscle responses in the in vitro contracture test (IVCT).
Methods: A total of 56 MHS index patients who complied with the following IVCT criteria were included in the molecular genetic investigation: Contracture forces > or =4 mN at a caffeine concentration of 2.0 mmol/l and > or =8 mN at a halothane concentration of 0.44 mmol/l. DNA sequences of exons 2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 39, 40, 45, 46, 102 of the RYR1 gene were analysed by the direct sequencing technique. Furthermore, if an MH mutation was identified in an index patient, all relatives were screened for their family specific RYR1 defect.
Results: In 39 index patients an RYR1 mutation was detected: Arg163Cys (n = 2), Asp166Asn (n = 1), Gly341Arg (n = 2), Arg401His (n = 2), Arg614Cys (n = 12), Asp2129Glu (n = 1),Vol2168Met (n = 1), Thr2206Met (n = 9), Ala2428Thr (n = 1), Gly2434Arg (n = 2), Arg2435His (n = 1), Arg2452Trp (n = 1), Arg2454His (n = 4). Three new RYR1 mutations were identified. We found a potential MH mutation in a further 130 relatives of the 39 index patients. Thirty-seven individuals were classified as MHS exclusively by molecular genetic techniques and did not have to undergo the IVCT.
Conclusions: The ascertained high rate of successful MH mutation screening (69.64%) is obviously associated with the more clearly defined MHS diagnosis in the IVCT. According to the EMHG guidelines for the molecular genetic detection of MH susceptibility, a positive MH disposition could be determined in numerous persons by a less invasive technique.