Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy is a rare genetic entity characterized by progressive fibro-fatty replacement of myocardium leading to malignant arrhythmias, syncope, and sudden cardiac death. Mostly it affects the right ventricle, but cases have also been described with biventricular and even isolated left ventricular involvement. The disease affects mainly young males and arrhythmias are usually induced by exercise. Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy has a genetic origin and is basically caused by deleterious alterations in genes encoding desmosomal proteins, especially plakophilin-2. To date, more than 400 rare genetic alterations have been identified in 18 genes, mainly with autosomal dominant inheritance, but some recessive forms have also been reported (Naxos disease and Carvajal syndrome). A comprehensive genetic analysis identifies a rare variant as potential cause of the disease in around 60% of patients, suggesting the existence of unknown genes as well as other genome alterations not yet discovered. Genetic interpretation classifies some of these rare variants as ambiguous, playing an uncertain role in arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy. This makes a proper translation of genetic data into clinical practice difficult. Moreover, incomplete penetrance and variable phenotypic expression makes it difficult to arrive at the correct diagnosis. In the present chapter, we focus on recent advances in the knowledge regarding the genetic basis of arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy.
Part of the book: Cardiomyopathy