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Autopsy 2018 [Perspective]

Lun, 18/06/2018 - 19:45

Prospective Countywide Surveillance and Autopsy Characterization of Sudden Cardiac Death [Original Research Article]

Lun, 18/06/2018 - 19:45
Background:Studies of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death (SCD) use emergency medical services records, death certificates, or definitions that infer cause of death; thus, the true incidence of SCD is unknown. Over 90% of SCDs occur out-of-hospital; nonforensic autopsies are rarely performed, and therefore causes of death are presumed. We conducted a medical examiner–based investigation to determine the precise incidence and autopsy-defined causes of all SCDs in an entire metropolitan area. We hypothesized that postmortem investigation would identify actual sudden arrhythmic deaths among presumed SCDs.Methods:Between February 1, 2011, and March 1, 2014, we prospectively identified all incident deaths attributed to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (emergency medical services primary impression, cardiac arrest) between 18 to 90 years of age in San Francisco County for autopsy, toxicology, and histology via medical examiner surveillance of consecutive out-of-hospital deaths, all reported by law. We obtained comprehensive records to determine whether out-of-hospital cardiac arrest deaths met World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for SCD. We reviewed death certificates filed quarterly for missed SCDs. Autopsy-defined sudden arrhythmic deaths had no extracardiac cause of death or acute heart failure. A multidisciplinary committee adjudicated final cause.Results:All 20?440 deaths were reviewed; 12?671 were unattended and reported to the medical examiner. From these, we identified 912 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest deaths; 541 (59%) met WHO SCD criteria (mean 62.8 years, 69% male) and 525 (97%) were autopsied. Eighty-nine additional WHO-defined SCDs occurred within 3 weeks of active medical care with the death certificate signed by the attending physician, ineligible for autopsy but included in the countywide WHO-defined SCD incidence of 29.6/100?000 person-years, highest in black men (P<0.0001). Of 525 WHO-defined SCDs, 301 (57%) had no cardiac history. Leading causes of death were coronary disease (32%), occult overdose (13.5%), cardiomyopathy (10%), cardiac hypertrophy (8%), and neurological (5.5%). Autopsy-defined sudden arrhythmic deaths were 55.8% (293/525) of overall, 65% (78/120) of witnessed, and 53% (215/405) of unwitnessed WHO-defined SCDs (P=0.024); 286 of 293 (98%) had structural cardiac disease.Conclusions:Forty percent of deaths attributed to stated cardiac arrest were not sudden or unexpected, and nearly half of presumed SCDs were not arrhythmic. These findings have implications for the accuracy of SCDs as defined by WHO criteria or emergency medical services records in aggregate mortality data, clinical trials, and cohort studies.

Importance of Variant Interpretation in Whole-Exome Molecular Autopsy [Original Research Article]

Lun, 18/06/2018 - 19:45
Background:Potentially lethal cardiac channelopathies/cardiomyopathies may underlie a substantial portion of sudden unexplained death in the young (SUDY). The whole-exome molecular autopsy represents the latest approach to postmortem genetic testing for SUDY. However, proper variant adjudication in the setting of SUDY can be challenging.Methods:From January 2012 through December 2013, 25 consecutive cases of SUDY from 1 to 40 years of age (average age at death 27±5.7 years; 13 white, 12 black) from Cook County, Illinois, were referred after a negative (n=16) or equivocal (n=9) conventional autopsy. A whole-exome molecular autopsy with analysis of 99 sudden death-susceptibility genes was performed. The predicted pathogenicity of ultrarare, nonsynonymous variants was determined using the American College of Medical Genetics guidelines.Results:Overall, 27 ultrarare nonsynonymous variants were seen in 16/25 (64%) victims of SUDY. Among black individuals, 9/12 (75%) had an ultrarare nonsynonymous variant compared with 7/13 (54%) white individuals. Of the 27 variants, 10 were considered pathogenic or likely pathogenic in 7/25 (28%) individuals in accordance with the American College of Medical Genetics guidelines. Pathogenic/likely pathogenic variants were identified in 5/16 (31%) of autopsy-negative cases and in 2/6 (33%) victims of SUDY with equivocal findings of cardiomyopathy. Overall, 6 pathogenic/likely pathogenic variants in 4/25 (16%) cases were congruent with the phenotypic findings at autopsy and therefore considered clinically actionable.Conclusions:Whole-exome molecular autopsy with gene-specific surveillance is an effective approach for the detection of potential pathogenic variants in SUDY cases. However, systematic variant adjudication is crucial to ensure accurate and proper care for surviving family members.

Primary Myocardial Fibrosis as an Alternative Phenotype Pathway of Inherited Cardiac Structural Disorders [Original Research Article]

Lun, 18/06/2018 - 19:45
Background:Myocardial fibrosis is a common postmortem finding among young individuals with sudden cardiac death. Because there is no known single cause, we tested the hypothesis that some cases of myocardial fibrosis in the absence of identifiable causes (primary myocardial fibrosis [PMF]) are associated with genetic variants.Methods:Tissue was obtained at autopsy from 4031 consecutive individuals with sudden cardiac death in Northern Finland, among whom PMF was the only structural finding in 145 subjects with sudden cardiac death. We performed targeted next-generation sequencing using a panel of 174 genes associated with myocardial structure and ion channel function when autopsies did not identify a secondary basis for myocardial fibrosis. All variants with an effect on protein and with a minor allele frequency <0.01 were classified as pathogenic or variants of uncertain significance on the basis of American College of Medical Genetics consensus guidelines.Results:Among the 96 specimens with DNA passing quality control (66%), postmortem genetic tests identified 24 variants of known or uncertain significance in 26 subjects (27%). Ten were pathogenic/likely pathogenic variants in 10 subjects (10%), and 14 were variants of uncertain significance in 11 genes among 16 subjects (17%). Five variants were in genes associated with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, 6 in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy–associated genes, and 11 in dilated cardiomyopathy–associated genes; 2 were not associated with these disorders. Four unique variants of uncertain significance cosegregated among multiple unrelated subjects with PMF. No pathogenic/likely pathogenic variants were detected in ion channel–encoding genes.Conclusions:A large proportion of subjects with PMF at autopsy had variants in genes associated with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy without autopsy findings of those diseases, suggesting that PMF can be an alternative phenotypic expression of structural disease–associated genetic variants or that risk-associated fibrosis was expressing before the primary disease. These findings have clinical implications for postmortem genetic testing and family risk profiling.

Cardiac Implantable Electronic Device Interrogation at Forensic Autopsy [Original Research Article]

Lun, 18/06/2018 - 19:45
Background:Postmortem interrogations of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs), recommended at autopsy in suspected cases of sudden cardiac death, are rarely performed, and data on systematic postmortem CIED analysis in the forensic pathology are missing. The aim of the study was to determine whether nonselective postmortem CIED interrogations and data analysis are useful to the forensic pathologist to determine the cause, mechanism, and time of death and to detect potential CIED-related safety issues.Methods:From February 2012 to April 2017, all autopsy subjects in the department of forensic medicine at the University Hospital Charité who had a CIED underwent device removal and interrogation. Over the study period, 5368 autopsies were performed. One hundred fifty subjects had in total 151 CIEDs, including 109 pacemakers, 35 defibrillators, and 7 implantable loop recorders.Results:In 40 cases (26.7%) time of death and in 51 cases (34.0%) cause of death could not be determined by forensic autopsy. Of these, CIED interrogation facilitated the determination of time of death in 70.0% of the cases and clarified the cause of death in 60.8%. Device concerns were identified in 9 cases (6.0%), including 3 hardware, 4 programming, and 2 algorithm issues. One CIED was submitted to the manufacturer for a detailed technical analysis.Conclusions:Our data demonstrate the necessity of systematic postmortem CIED interrogation in forensic medicine to determine the cause and timing of death more accurately. In addition, CIED analysis is an important tool to detect potential CIED-related safety issues.

Proteomic Architecture of Human Coronary and Aortic Atherosclerosis [Original Research Article]

Lun, 18/06/2018 - 19:45
Backgound:The inability to detect premature atherosclerosis significantly hinders implementation of personalized therapy to prevent coronary heart disease. A comprehensive understanding of arterial protein networks and how they change in early atherosclerosis could identify new biomarkers for disease detection and improved therapeutic targets.Methods:Here we describe the human arterial proteome and proteomic features strongly associated with early atherosclerosis based on mass spectrometry analysis of coronary artery and aortic specimens from 100 autopsied young adults (200 arterial specimens). Convex analysis of mixtures, differential dependent network modeling, and bioinformatic analyses defined the composition, network rewiring, and likely regulatory features of the protein networks associated with early atherosclerosis and how they vary across 2 anatomic distributions.Results:The data document significant differences in mitochondrial protein abundance between coronary and aortic samples (coronary>>aortic), and between atherosclerotic and normal tissues (atherosclerotic<

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