Vagal Syncope | Validation of a Non Invasive Blood Marker of SIDS and Vagal Disorders

Vagal Syncope research study

What is the primary objective of this study?

Context The investigators recently demonstrated a highly significant increase in muscarinic receptor density in the myocardium of infants deceased from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) compared to those of infants deceased from identified causes 1. Muscarinic receptor overexpression was found in all SIDS samples studied to date. It was associated with an average increase in acetylcholinesterase activity, appearing as a compensatory mechanism to oppose the cardiac muscarinic receptor overexpression. Similar vago-cardiac abnormalities were detected in a rabbit model of vagal hyperreactivity that the investigators first described some years ago2. In these hyperreactive animals, expression of muscarinic receptors was also enhanced in blood white cells. Noticeably, the pattern of changes in these cells paralleled the pattern of changes in the heart. Thus, muscarinic abnormalities in cardiac tissues could be inferred with high confidence from those measured in lymphocytes.This was the first report of a vago-cardiac abnormality in sudden infant death syndrome. The investigators findings also provided original and important perspectives for the identification and therapeutic management of infants at risk of sudden death. As such, the publication of the investigators work raised a major interest from the population and from the scientific and medical communities, in particular cardio-pediatricians. ObjectivesThe objective of the present clinical project is to validate, in human lymphocytes, muscarinic receptor expression level (assessed by quantitative RT-PCR) as a circulating biomarker of autonomic nervous system dysfunction and more specifically, of vagal hyperactivity and of risk of sudden death. The project will include 2 major items, conducted in parallel:1. evaluation of the muscarinic receptor expression in lymphocytes from adults with vagal syncopes (n=60 patients from an existing file versus 60 controls) (Cardiology unit + Clinical Investigation Centre (CIC) + Laboratory of Neurobiology and Cardiovascular Pharmacology); 2. evaluation of the muscarinic receptor expression in lymphocytes from children with vagal syncopes (n=60 versus 60 controls) (Pediatry unit + Clinical Investigation Centre + Laboratory of Neurobiology and Cardiovascular Pharmacology).PerspectivesThis project represents the first step of validation of a circulating marker of vagal hyperactivity and of risk of SIDS in human. Once this step is completed, the investigators will start with the prospective study \" muscarinic receptor expression in lymphocytes and SIDS \" (cord blood collected at birth and follow up of the new-borns) (Maternity ward + CIC + Laboratory of Neurobiology and Cardiovascular Pharmacology). Then therapeutic preventive management becomes a realistic objective. A therapeutic clinical study will then be started with atropinic drugs, in order to test their potential protective action against sudden death. The final objective of the investigators research is the prevention of SIDS through i) identification - as soon as birth - of new-borns at high risk and ii) appropriate prophylactic therapy. The investigators work also opens exciting perspectives in the field of the still poorly understood vagal disorders in children and adults such as vagal pauses.1 Livolsi et coll, Plos One 5, e9464, 2010 ; 2 Livolsi et coll, Circulation 106, 2301-2304, 2002

Who is eligible to participate?

Inclusion Criteria: - Man or woman aged 1 month to 50 years - Patients with clinical signs of recurrent severe vagal syncopes - Controls without clinical signs of recurrent severe vagal syncopes - Mandatory clinical examination prior to enrolment Exclusion Criteria: - Autonomic nervous system disorders - Cardiovascular, neurologic, psychiatric or metabolic diseases - Drugs interfering with autonomic nervous system - Doping or drug abuse - Chronic smoking (more than 3 cigarettes a day - Pregnancy

Which medical condition, disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury is researched?

Vagal Syncope

Study Interventions

Interventions can include giving participants drugs, medical devices, procedures, vaccines, and other products that are either investigational or already available or noninvasive approaches such as surveys, education, and interviews.

Biological:Blood samplingBlood sampling

Other:ECG-Holter 24 h tape and sino-carotid stimulation testECG-Holter 24 h tape and sino-carotid stimulation test

Study Arms

Research studies and clinical trials typically have two or more research arms. An arm is a group of people who receive the same treatment in the study.

Patients with vagal syncopes

Subjects controls without vagal syncopes

Study Status


Start Date: March 2011

Completed Date: May 2015


Type: Observational


Primary Outcome:

Secondary Outcome:

Study sponsors, principal investigator, and references

Principal Investigator: Angelo LIVOLSI

Lead Sponsor: University Hospital, Strasbourg, France


More information:

Discuss Syncope