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Desmoglein-2 mutations are detected in 5–10% of patients with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Endurance training accelerates the development of the ARVC phenotype, leading to earlier arrhythmic events. Homozygous Dsg2 mutant mice develop a severe ARVC-like phenotype. The phenotype of heterozygous mutant (Dsg2mt/wt) or haploinsufficient (Dsg20/wt) mice is still not well understood. To assess the effects of age and endurance swim training, we studied cardiac morphology and function in sedentary one-year-old Dsg2mt/wt and Dsg20/wt mice and in young Dsg2mt/wt mice exposed to endurance swim training. Cardiac structure was only occasionally affected in aged Dsg20/wt and Dsg2mt/wt mice manifesting as small fibrotic foci and displacement of Connexin 43. Endurance swim training increased the right ventricular (RV) diameter and decreased RV function in Dsg2mt/wt mice but not in wild types. Dsg2mt/wt hearts showed increased ventricular activation times and pacing-induced ventricular arrhythmia without obvious fibrosis or inflammation. Preload-reducing therapy during training prevented RV enlargement and alleviated the electrophysiological phenotype. Taken together, endurance swim training induced features of ARVC in young adult Dsg2mt/wt mice. Prolonged ventricular activation times in the hearts of trained Dsg2mt/wt mice are therefore a potential mechanism for increased arrhythmia risk. Preload-reducing therapy prevented training-induced ARVC phenotype pointing to beneficial treatment options in human patients.

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