Reflex syncope is defined by a self-terminating transient loss of consciousness associated with an exaggerated response of the vagal reflexes upon orthostatic challenges. A hereditary component has previously been suggested. We hypothesized that variations in genes encoding proteins mediating the vagal signaling in the heart may be involved in reflex syncope pathogenesis. We systematically resequenced the entire coding regions and flanking intron sequences in 5 genes in the cardiac post-synaptic parasympathetic signaling pathway [muscarinic acetylcholine receptor M2 (CHRM2); G-protein beta-1 subunit (GNB1); G-protein gamma-2 subunit (GNG2); potassium inwardly rectifying channel, subfamily J, member 3 (KCNJ3); and potassium inwardly rectifying channel, subfamily J, member 5 (KCNJ5)] in 74 patients with well-characterized reflex syncope of either cardioinhibitory [Vasovagal Syncope International Study (VASIS-IIB), N = 38] or vasodepressor (VASIS-III, N = 36) type. We identified 2 novel genetic variants (CHRM2 c.1114C>G and GNG2 c.87+34G>A) and several known variants (GNB1: c.267+14G>A, c.267+19C>T, and c.738C>T; KCNJ3: c.119A>G, c.591C>T, c.1038T>C, and c.1494T>C; KCNJ5: c. 171T>C, c.810T>G, c.834T>C, c.844C>G, c.938+7C>T, and c.938-10G>A). The minor allele frequency of the KCNJ5 c.938+7C>T variant was significantly lower in patients than in the control group (0.014 versus 0.089, P = 0.001), and the frequency of heterozygosity and homozygosity was lower in cardioinhibitory patients compared to controls. Genetic variations in genes responsible for the vagal signaling in the heart, including CHRM2, GNB1, GNG2, KCNJ3, and KCNJ5, are not major contributors to the pathogenesis of reflex syncope of vasodepressor or cardioinhibitory types.
Genetics and Molecular Research, 2013, Vol 12, Issue 3, p. 2601-2610