Clustering heart rate dynamics is associated with β-adrenergic receptor polymorphisms: Analysis by information-based similarity index

Albert C. Yang, Shih Jen Tsai, Chen Jee Hong, Cynthia Wang, Tai Jui Chen, Ying Jay Liou, Chung Kang Peng

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14 Scopus citations


Background: Genetic polymorphisms in the gene encoding the β-adrenergic receptors (β-AR) have a pivotal role in the functions of the autonomic nervous system. Using heart rate variability (HRV) as an indicator of autonomic function, we present a bottom-up genotype-phenotype analysis to investigate the association between β-AR gene polymorphisms and heart rate dynamics. Methods: A total of 221 healthy Han Chinese adults (59 males and 162 females, aged 33.6±10.8 years, range 19 to 63 years) were recruited and genotyped for three common β-AR polymorphisms: β1-AR Ser49Gly, β2-AR Arg16Gly and β2-AR Gln27Glu. Each subject underwent two hours of electrocardiogram monitoring at rest. We applied an information-based similarity (IBS) index to measure the pairwise dissimilarity of heart rate dynamics among study subjects. Results: With the aid of agglomerative hierarchical cluster analysis, we categorized subjects into major clusters, which were found to have significantly different distributions of β2-AR Arg16Gly genotype. Furthermore, the non-randomness index, a nonlinear HRV measure derived from the IBS method, was significantly lower in Arg16 homozygotes than in Gly16 carriers. The non-randomness index was negatively correlated with parasympathetic-related HRV variables and positively correlated with those HRV indices reflecting a sympathovagal shift toward sympathetic activity. Conclusions: We demonstrate a bottom-up categorization approach combining the IBS method and hierarchical cluster analysis to detect subgroups of subjects with HRV phenotypes associated with β-AR polymorphisms. Our results provide evidence that β2-AR polymorphisms are significantly associated with the acceleration/deceleration pattern of heart rate oscillation, reflecting the underlying mode of autonomic nervous system control.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere19232
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2011


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