Plakoglobin immunolocalization as a diagnostic test for arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2014 Dec;37(12):1708-16. doi: 10.1111/pace.12492. Epub 2014 Sep 5.


Background: A recent study using an anti-plakoglobin antibody and immunofluorescence methods in endomyocardial tissue specimens found that a marked reduction in plakoglobin staining was highly sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). The purpose of our study was to determine the diagnostic utility of plakoglobin immunolocalization using more standard immunoperoxidase methods suitable for clinical laboratories.

Methods: Between January 2007 and October 2010, all patients at our center with suspected ARVC underwent noninvasive and genetic testing, right ventricular (RV) angiography, electrophysiologic studies, and endomyocardial biopsy from the RV septum. Several studies using anti-plakoglobin antibodies were performed using standard immunoperoxidase methods at concentrations of 1:50,000 and 1:75,000 after serial dilutions.

Results: Among 16 patients, nine patients fulfilled the clinical criteria for ARVC, and seven patients were found to have other cardiac diagnoses. In the initial study (1:50,000) only one of nine ARVC patients showed reduced plakoglobin signal while the others had normal staining. On repeat staining (1:75,000), reduced signal was observed in three of five of the ARVC patients compared to none in controls (four patients did not have adequate tissue for the repeat experiment).

Conclusion: These results confirm that abnormal plakoglobin staining can differentiate biopsies from patients with ARVC from those with other myopathies, but with low sensitivity. Further, each specimen must be studied at a particular concentration due to variable antibody reactivity. The necessity for such fine-tuning of the reaction, as well as the subjectivity involved in interpretation of the results, would make this method difficult to utilize in routine hospital laboratories.

Keywords: VT; congestive heart failure; pathology.

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia / pathology*
  • Biopsy
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult
  • gamma Catenin / analysis*


  • gamma Catenin