Sex hormones affect outcome in arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia: from a stem cell derived cardiomyocyte-based model to clinical biomarkers of disease outcome

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Abstract

Aims

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia (ARVC/D) is characterized by fibrofatty infiltration of the myocardium and ventricular arrhythmias that may lead to sudden cardiac death. It has been observed that male patients develop the disease earlier and present with more severe phenotypes as compared to females. Thus, we hypothesized that serum levels of sex hormones may contribute to major arrhythmic cardiovascular events (MACE) in patients with ARVC/D.

Methods and results

The serum levels of five sex hormones, sex hormone-binding globulin, high sensitivity troponin T, pro-brain natriuretic peptide, cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and glucose were measured in 54 ARVC/D patients (72% male). Twenty-six patients (48%) experienced MACE. Total and free testosterone levels were significantly increased in males with MACE as compared to males with a favourable outcome, whereas estradiol was significantly lower in females with MACE as compared to females with a favourable outcome. Increased testosterone levels remained independently associated with MACE in males after adjusting for age, body mass index, Task Force criteria, ventricular function, and desmosomal mutation status. Furthermore, an induced pluripotent stem cell-derived ARVC/D cardiomyocyte model was used to investigate the effects of sex hormones. In this model, testosterone worsened and estradiol improved ARVC/D-related pathologies such as cardiomyocyte apoptosis and lipogenesis, strongly supporting our clinical findings.

Conclusions

Elevated serum testosterone levels in males and decreased estradiol levels in females are independently associated with MACE in ARVC/D, and directly influence disease pathology. Therefore, determining the levels of sex hormones may be useful for risk stratification and may open a new window for preventive interventions.

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