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Posthumous diagnosis of long QT syndrome from neonatal screening cards.

P A Gladding, C-A Evans, J Crawford, S K Chung, A Vaughan, D Webster, K Neas, D R Love, M I Rees, A N Shelling, J R Skinner

Heart Rhythm, 2010 Apr , 7, 481-6

BACKGROUND: Molecular autopsy in sudden unexplained death in the young (SUDY) victims cannot usually be performed if tissue suitable for DNA extraction is not retained at autopsy. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and clinical value of posthumous genetic testing for long QT syndrome (LQTS) using residual material from the neonatal screening (Guthrie) card in SUDY victims. METHODS: Twenty-one cases were investigated up to 13 years after death. Deaths occurred at <1 year in one, 1-18 years in 18, and 19-35 years in two patients. Guthrie cards were 3-39 years old. DNA was extracted, and amplicons corresponding to the coding regions of the LQTS genes 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 underwent either denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography screening or direct DNA sequencing. RESULTS: Adequate DNA was extracted in every case, although repeated purification and amplification was often required. Rare variants were detected in six of 19 cases undergoing diagnostic screening. Four (21%) are considered to be pathological and have been used for family screening: R243C and H455Y in KCNQ1 in 12-year-old and 13-year-old boys, respectively, and Q81H and S621R in KCNH2 in 21-month and 28-year-old females, respectively. Variants of uncertain significance were R1047L in KCNH2 in a 2-year-old girl and S38G in KCNE1 in a 19-month-old boy. Point mutation tests for previously identified familial LQTS mutations revealed a positive result in both cases: E146K in KCNQ1 and exon 6-4del in KCNH2. CONCLUSION: Residual material from Guthrie cards collected for newborn metabolic screening can be used as a reliable source of DNA for the posthumous diagnosis of LQTS decades after SUDY, although purification and amplification of DNA is time intensive.