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. 2020 Mar 1;21(5):1687.
doi: 10.3390/ijms21051687.

Brugada Syndrome: Oligogenic or Mendelian Disease?

Free PMC article

Brugada Syndrome: Oligogenic or Mendelian Disease?

Michelle M Monasky et al. Int J Mol Sci. .
Free PMC article


Brugada syndrome (BrS) is diagnosed by a coved-type ST-segment elevation in the right precordial leads on the electrocardiogram (ECG), and it is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) compared to the general population. Although BrS is considered a genetic disease, its molecular mechanism remains elusive in about 70-85% of clinically-confirmed cases. Variants occurring in at least 26 different genes have been previously considered causative, although the causative effect of all but the SCN5A gene has been recently challenged, due to the lack of systematic, evidence-based evaluations, such as a variant's frequency among the general population, family segregation analyses, and functional studies. Also, variants within a particular gene can be associated with an array of different phenotypes, even within the same family, preventing a clear genotype-phenotype correlation. Moreover, an emerging concept is that a single mutation may not be enough to cause the BrS phenotype, due to the increasing number of common variants now thought to be clinically relevant. Thus, not only the complete list of genes causative of the BrS phenotype remains to be determined, but also the interplay between rare and common multiple variants. This is particularly true for some common polymorphisms whose roles have been recently re-evaluated by outstanding works, including considering for the first time ever a polygenic risk score derived from the heterozygous state for both common and rare variants. The more common a certain variant is, the less impact this variant might have on heart function. We are aware that further studies are warranted to validate a polygenic risk score, because there is no mutated gene that connects all, or even a majority, of BrS cases. For the same reason, it is currently impossible to create animal and cell line genetic models that represent all BrS cases, which would enable the expansion of studies of this syndrome. Thus, the best model at this point is the human patient population. Further studies should first aim to uncover genetic variants within individuals, as well as to collect family segregation data to identify potential genetic causes of BrS.

Keywords: Brugada syndrome; SCN5A; arrhythmia; channelopathy; functional studies; genetic testing; mutation; segregation analysis; sodium channel; sudden cardiac death.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.

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