Genetics of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy: Current Knowledge, Future Directions and Clinical Implications

Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a condition in which heart failure and systolic dysfunction occur late in pregnancy or within months following delivery. Over the last decade, genetic advances in heritable cardiomyopathy have provided new insights into the role of genetics in PPCM. In this review, we summarise current knowledge of the genetics of PPCM and potential avenues for further research, including the role of molecular chaperone mutations in PPCM. Evidence supporting a genetic basis for PPCM has emanated from observations of familial disease, overlap with familial dilated cardiomyopathy, and sequencing studies of PPCM cohorts. Approximately 20% of PPCM patients screened for cardiomyopathy genes have an identified pathogenic mutation, with TTN truncations most commonly implicated. As a stress-associated condition, PPCM may be modulated by molecular chaperones such as heat shock proteins (Hsps). Recent studies have led to the identification of Hsp mutations in a PPCM model, suggesting that variation in these stress-response genes may contribute to PPCM pathogenesis. Although some Hsp genes have been implicated in dilated cardiomyopathy, their roles in PPCM remain to be determined. Additional areas of future investigation may include the delineation of genotype-phenotype correlations and the screening of newly-identified cardiomyopathy genes for their roles in PPCM. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the construction of a family history may be advised in the management of PPCM and that genetic testing should be considered. A better understanding of the genetics of PPCM holds the potential to improve treatment, prognosis, and family management.