SP 5

Genomic Epidemiology of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a complex disease of high public health impact, in particular in aging populations.  Atrial fibrillation is multifactorial in its origin with a considerable heritable component. A family history of atrial fibrillation is a strong indicator for future development of the disease. However, to date, risk prediction and outcome assessment have remained vague since known classical risk factors of atrial fibrillation only incompletely explain the disease risk. Genomic research has largely focused on genetic variation of atrial fibrillation phenotypes. Genome-wide association studies have demonstrated that only a minor percentage of variation is explained by common polymorphisms identified so far. Efforts to combine and exploit existing biorepositories and cohorts specifically designed to address systems biology aspects of atrial fibrillation have remained scant. Thus, to significantly advance risk prediction and find targets for early intervention in atrial fibrillation we will attempt to enhance the characterization of atrial fibrillation and its endophenotypes and to consider novel candidate biomarkers derived by genomics technologies in diverse atrial fibrillation and population cohorts.
Based on our preliminary work we will carefully define atrial fibrillation subtypes in clinical and community-based cohorts available in our consortium. Blood-based biomarker candidates derived from genomics approaches in the other subprojects will complement risk assessment on top of classical cardiovascular disease risk factors.
In the context of systems medicine of AF we will thus make maximum use of epidemiologically ascertainable determinants of AF to offer targets for individualized risk prediction and specific interventions.

Keywords: genetic epidemiology, risk stratification, omics