Background: Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia (ARVC/D) is a progressive cardiomyopathy showing a wide clinical spectrum in terms of clinical expressions and prognoses.
Objective: This study sought to estimate the occurrence of compound and double heterozygotes for mutations in desmosomal proteins encoding genes in a cohort of ARVC/D Italian index cases, and to assess the clinical phenotype of mutations carriers.
Methods: Fourty-two consecutive ARVC/D index cases who fulfilled the International Task Force diagnostic criteria were screened for mutations in PKP2, DSP, DSG2, DSC2, and JUP genes by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC) and direct sequencing.
Results: Three probands (7.1%) showing a family history of sudden death carried multiple mutations. Family screening identified an additional 7 multiple-mutation carriers. Among the 7 double heterozygotes for mutations in different genes, 2 were clinically unaffected, 2 were affected, and 3 showed some clinical signs of ARVC/D even if they did not fulfill the diagnostic criteria. Two compound heterozygotes for mutations in the same gene and 1 subject carrying 3 different mutations showed a severe form of the disease with heart failure onset at a young age. Moreover, multiple-mutation carriers showed a higher prevalence of left ventricular involvement (P = .025) than single-mutation carriers.
Conclusion: Occurrence of compound and double heterozygotes in ARVC/D index cases is particularly relevant to mutation screening strategy and to genetic counseling. Even if multiple-mutation carriers show a wide variability in clinical expression, the extent of the disease is higher compared to that in single-mutation carriers.