Electrophysiological basis and genetics of Brugada syndrome.
Brugada syndrome is a primary arrhythmic syndrome arising in the structurally normal heart. Any proposed mechanism should account for the major features of the syndrome: localization of the ST segment and T-wave changes to the right precordial leads, association of conduction slowing at several levels, precipitation or aggravation of the major ECG changes by sodium channel-blocking drugs and the occurrence of ventricular fibrillation. Heterogeneity of repolarization across the ventricle wall plays a major role. Any agency that shifts the net current gradient during phase I outward would exaggerate the normal heterogeneity of repolarization and result in the ST segment and T-wave changes characteristic of the syndrome. When the outward current shift is marked, premature repolarization may occur in epicardial zone and the resulting gradient may precipitate reentry. The syndrome is inherited as an autosomal dominant. However, 75% of clinically affected individuals are males. In 20% of cases, the syndrome is associated with mutations of the cardiac sodium channel gene SCN5A. The mutations result in a loss-of-function as a result of the synthesis of a non-functional protein, altered protein trafficking, or change in gating. Agencies that reduce the sodium current may precipitate the characteristic ECG changes, for example, sodium channel blockers and membrane depolarization by hyperkalemia. Sympathetic stimulation may reverse the ECG changes and reduce arrhythmia recurrence. By its nonspecific potassium channel blocking action, quinidine may also reduce arrhythmia recurrence. We still do not know the basis for defect in the majority of patients with Brugada syndrome.
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