- K. Bellmann
- A. Perrot
- S. Rickert-Sperling
- Congenital Heart Diseases: The Broken Heart
Ventricular septal defects (VSDs) are recognized as one of the commonest congenital heart diseases (CHD), accounting for up to 40 % of all cardiac malformations, and occur as isolated CHDs as well as together with other cardiac and extracardiac congenital malformations in individual patients and families. The genetic etiology of VSD is complex and extraordinarily heterogenous. Chromosomal abnormalities such as aneuploidy and structural variations as well as rare point mutations in various genes have been reported to be associated with this cardiac defect. This includes both well-defined syndromes with known genetic cause (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome and Holt–Oram syndrome) and so far undefined syndromic forms characterized by unspecific symptoms. Mutations in genes encoding cardiac transcription factors (e.g., NKX2-5 and GATA4) and signaling molecules (e.g., CFC1) have been most frequently found in VSD cases. Moreover, new high-resolution methods such as comparative genomic hybridization enabled the discovery of a high number of different copy number variations, leading to gain or loss of chromosomal regions often containing multiple genes, in patients with VSD. In this chapter, we will describe the broad genetic heterogeneity observed in VSD patients considering recent advances in this field.