Prevalence and Disease Expression of Pathogenic and Likely Pathogenic Variants Associated With Inherited Cardiomyopathies in the General Population

Circ Genom Precis Med. 2022 Dec;15(6):e003704. doi: 10.1161/CIRCGEN.122.003704. Epub 2022 Oct 20.


Background: Pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants associated with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) are recommended to be reported as secondary findings in genome sequencing studies. This provides opportunities for early diagnosis, but also fuels uncertainty in variant carriers (G+), since disease penetrance is incomplete. We assessed the prevalence and disease expression of G+ in the general population.

Methods: We identified pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants associated with ARVC, DCM and/or HCM in 200 643 UK Biobank individuals, who underwent whole exome sequencing. We calculated the prevalence of G+ and analyzed the frequency of cardiomyopathy/heart failure diagnosis. In undiagnosed individuals, we analyzed early signs of disease expression using available electrocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging data.

Results: We found a prevalence of 1:578, 1:251, and 1:149 for pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants associated with ARVC, DCM and HCM respectively. Compared with controls, cardiovascular mortality was higher in DCM G+ (odds ratio 1.67 [95% CI 1.04; 2.59], P=0.030), but similar in ARVC and HCM G+ (P≥0.100). Cardiomyopathy or heart failure diagnosis were more frequent in DCM G+ (odds ratio 3.66 [95% CI 2.24; 5.81], P=4.9×10-7) and HCM G+ (odds ratio 3.03 [95% CI 1.98; 4.56], P=5.8×10-7), but comparable in ARVC G+ (P=0.172). In contrast, ARVC G+ had more ventricular arrhythmias (P=3.3×10-4). In undiagnosed individuals, left ventricular ejection fraction was reduced in DCM G+ (P=0.009).

Conclusions: In the general population, pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants associated with ARVC, DCM, or HCM are not uncommon. Although G+ have increased mortality and morbidity, disease penetrance in these carriers from the general population remains low (1.2-3.1%). Follow-up decisions in case of incidental findings should not be based solely on a variant, but on multiple factors, including family history and disease expression.

Keywords: arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; dilated cardiomyopathy; genetics; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; whole exome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia* / epidemiology
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia* / genetics
  • Cardiomyopathies* / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathies* / genetics
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated* / genetics
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic*
  • Heart Failure*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left