The beta2-adrenergic receptor (beta2AR), an important modulator of cardiac inotropy and chronotropy, has significant genetic heterogeneity in the population. Because dysfunctional betaARs play a role in the pathogenesis of the failing ventricle, we tested the hypothesis that beta2AR polymorphisms alter the outcome of congestive heart failure. 259 patients with NYHA functional class II-IV heart failure due to ischemic or dilated cardiomyopathy were genotyped and prospectively followed, with the endpoint defined as death or cardiac transplantation. The allele frequencies between this group and those of 212 healthy controls also were compared and did not differ between the groups. However, those with the Ile164 polymorphism displayed a striking difference in survival with a relative risk of death or cardiac transplant of 4.81 (P < 0.001) compared with those with the wild-type Thr at this position. Age, race, gender, functional class, etiology, ejection fraction, and medication use did not differ between these individuals and those with the wild-type beta2AR, and thus the beta2AR genotype at position 164 was the only clear distinguishing feature between the two groups. The 1-yr survival for Ile164 patients was 42% compared with 76% for patients harboring wild-type beta2AR. In contrast, polymorphisms at amino acid positions 16 (Arg or Gly) or 27 (Gln or Glu), which also alter receptor phenotype, did not appear to have an influence on the course of heart failure. Taken together with cell-based and transgenic mouse results, this study establishes a paradigm whereby genetic variants of key signaling elements can have pathophysiologic consequences within the context of a disease. Furthermore, patients with the Ile164 polymorphism and heart failure may be candidates for earlier aggressive intervention or cardiac transplantation.
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