Genetic modifier of the QTc interval associated with early-onset atrial fibrillation

Can J Cardiol. 2013 Oct;29(10):1234-40. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2013.06.009.


Background: Both shortening and prolongation of the QTc interval have been associated with atrial fibrillation (AF). We investigated whether 8 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at loci previously shown to affect QTc interval duration were associated with lone AF.

Methods: We included 358 patients diagnosed with lone AF (defined as onset of AF at < 50 years of age in the absence of traditional cardiovascular risk factors) and a control group consisting of 751 individuals free of AF. The 8 loci were genotyped using TaqMan assays. Genotype frequencies in lone AF cases and controls were compared using an additive logistic regression model.

Results: Risk of the development of early-onset lone AF in individuals homozygous for the variant rs2968863 (7q36.1) was higher than in individuals with no copies of the risk allele (odds ratio [OR], 2.40; P = 0.001). The association was also significant after Bonferroni correction (P = 0.016). This polymorphism has been shown to decrease the QTc interval by 1.4 ms in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The genetic variant is situated close to the long QT syndrome (LQTS) type 2 gene KCNH2 that encodes the potassium channel Kv11.1 (hERG). Sanger sequencing of KCNH2 confirmed the known high linkage disequilibrium between rs2968863 and the nonsynonymous variant K897T in KCNH2. No novel mutations were found in the gene.

Conclusions: The variant rs2968863 (7q36.1), reported in GWAS to shorten the QTc interval, was found to be associated with early-onset lone AF. This may have implications for the pathophysiological understanding of AF.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / genetics*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • ERG1 Potassium Channel
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels / genetics*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Young Adult


  • ERG1 Potassium Channel
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels
  • KCNH2 protein, human
  • DNA