Identification of heart rate-associated loci and their effects on cardiac conduction and rhythm disorders

Marcel den Hoed, Mark Eijgelsheim, Tõnu Esko, Bianca J J M Brundel, David S Peal, David M Evans, Ilja M Nolte, Ayellet V Segrè, Hilma Holm, Robert E Handsaker, Harm-Jan Westra, Toby Johnson, Aaron Isaacs, Jian Yang, Alicia Lundby, Jing Hua Zhao, Young Jin Kim, Min Jin Go, Peter Almgren, Murielle BochudGabrielle Boucher, Marilyn C Cornelis, Daniel Gudbjartsson, David Hadley, Pim van der Harst, Caroline Hayward, Martin den Heijer, Wilmar Igl, Anne U Jackson, Zoltán Kutalik, Jian'an Luan, John P Kemp, Kati Kristiansson, Claes Ladenvall, Mattias Lorentzon, May E Montasser, Omer T Njajou, Paul F O'Reilly, Sandosh Padmanabhan, Beate St Pourcain, Tuomo Rankinen, Perttu Salo, Toshiko Tanaka, Nicholas J Timpson, Veronique Vitart, Lindsay Waite, William Wheeler, Weihua Zhang, Harmen H M Draisma, Andrew Wong, Global BPgen Consortium, Ruth J. F. Loos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Elevated resting heart rate is associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In a 2-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in up to 181,171 individuals, we identified 14 new loci associated with heart rate and confirmed associations with all 7 previously established loci. Experimental downregulation of gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster and Danio rerio identified 20 genes at 11 loci that are relevant for heart rate regulation and highlight a role for genes involved in signal transmission, embryonic cardiac development and the pathophysiology of dilated cardiomyopathy, congenital heart failure and/or sudden cardiac death. In addition, genetic susceptibility to increased heart rate is associated with altered cardiac conduction and reduced risk of sick sinus syndrome, and both heart rate-increasing and heart rate-decreasing variants associate with risk of atrial fibrillation. Our findings provide fresh insights into the mechanisms regulating heart rate and identify new therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-31
Number of pages11
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac/genetics
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Heart Conduction System/physiopathology
  • Heart Rate/genetics
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Quantitative Trait Loci

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