SGK1 inhibition as a novel therapeutic approach in Long QT syndrome

In this project FRRB funds Partner number 1:

  • Istituto Auxologico Italiano IRCCS, Principal Investigator Dr. Lia Crotti.
Pathology of interest: QT Syndrome
Area of research: Cardiology/vascular diseases
Start date: 01 June 2021
End date: 31 May 2024
Funding:  € 476.600,00
Project partners:

  - Amsterdam University Medical Center - Leading partner, Netherlands

  - University of Bern (UNERN), Switzerland

  - Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel


Congenital long-QT syndrome (LQTS) is a rare inherited disorder (prevalence approximately1:2500) associated with life-threatening arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) in relatively young and otherwise healthy individuals. 

LQTS has a heterogeneous genetic basis, with various LQTS subtypes caused by mutations in distinct genes related to cardiac ion channel function. 

Current symptom-directed therapies aimed at reducing arrhythmia triggering events, including lifestyle changes, beta blockade, and left cardiac sympathetic denervation, only partly prevent arrhythmic events, and SCD still occurs in a substantial number of LQTS patients.

Within SILENCE-LQTS, we will investigate a novel, mechanism-targeted therapy, comprising pharmacological inhibition of the serum and glucocorticoid regulated kinase-1 (SGK1). 

In contrast to current symptom-directed therapies, this novel approach is designed to correct the pro-arrhythmic alterations in sodium homeostasis caused (in)directly by the underlying genetic defect. Efficacy of a SGK1 inhibitor, developed by our industry partner, will be systematically tested in vivo and on the cardiomyocyte and whole heart level in well-established unique transgenic rabbit and mouse models of different LQTS subtypes. 

Furthermore, its efficacy will be tested in human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) obtained from LQTS patients and in 2D/3D engineered hiPSC-CM tissues. 

These pre-clinical studies will establish the anti-arrhythmic potential of SGK1 inhibition, paving the way for future clinical application aimed at preventing SCD in LQTS.