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Genetics of atrial fibrillation: an update

Campbell, Hannah, M.a,b,c; Wehrens, Xander, H.T.a,b,d,e,f

Current Opinion in Cardiology: May 2018 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 304–310
doi: 10.1097/HCO.0000000000000505
MOLECULAR GENETICS: Edited by Ali J. Marian

Purpose of review Atrial fibrillation is a common cardiac arrhythmia with a high morbidity and mortality affecting 34 million worldwide. Current therapies are inadequate and often fail to directly address molecular mechanisms of the disease. In this review, we will provide an overview of recent advances in our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of atrial fibrillation.

Recent findings Large-scale genetic association studies have more than doubled the number of genetic loci associated with atrial fibrillation during the last year. Studies examining how genes at or near these loci can affect the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation are ongoing in cellular, animal, and computational models. In addition, several recent clinical studies have also demonstrated that variants at these loci can aid in risk stratification of patients.

Summary There are now over 30 genetic loci associated with atrial fibrillation. A better understanding of how these loci relate to disease pathogenesis may provide insight into novel therapeutic targets and ultimately lead to improved clinical care.

aDepartment of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

bCardiovascular Research Institute

cMedical Scientist Training Program

dDepartment of Medicine

eDepartment of Pediatrics

fCenter for Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA

Corresponding to Xander H.T. Wehrens, MD, PhD, Cardiovascular Research Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, 1 Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Tel: +1 713 798 4700; e-mail:

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