The molecular genetic basis of atrial fibrillation
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As the most common cardiac arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (AF) is a major risk factor for stroke, heart failure, and premature death with considerable associated costs. However, no available treatment options have optimal benefit-harm profiles currently, reflecting an incomplete understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying this complex arrhythmia. Recently, molecular epidemiological studies, especially genome-wide association studies, have emphasized the substantial genetic component of AF etiology. A comprehensive mapping of the genetic underpinnings for AF can expand our knowledge of AF mechanism and further facilitate the process of locating novel therapeutics for AF. Here we provide a state-of-the-art review of the molecular genetics of AF incorporating evidence from linkage analysis and candidate gene, as well as genome-wide association studies of common variations and rare copy number variations; potential epigenetic modifications (e.g., DNA methylation, histone modification, and non-coding RNAs) are also involved. We also outline the challenges in mechanism investigation and potential future directions in this article.
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