Apolipoprotein E polymorphism influences lipid phenotypic expression, but not the low density lipoprotein subfraction distribution in familial combined hyperlipidemia


      The impact of apo E polymorphism on interindividual variation in plasma lipid, lipoprotein concentrations, and LDL subfraction profiles was studied in 201 well-defined patients (88 men and 103 women) with familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCH). When corrected for the concomitant influences of age, gender and obesity, the allelic variation in the apo E gene was shown to explain a statistically significant portion of the variability in lipid and (apo)lipoprotein concentrations. Carriers of the apo ϵ2 allele exhibited a substantially higher plasma triglyceride concentration and a lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level, while subjects with the apo ϵ4 allele had significant higher total plasma cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. In line with this observation, our FCH population was characterized by an over-representation of the apo E4 allele as compared with a Dutch standard population (χ2 = 55.2, P < 0.0001). The contribution of apo E polymorphism to trait variability was different between sexes for plasma triglyceride, VLDL cholesterol, VLDL triglycerides, and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Apo E polymorphism had no impact on chemical composition of VLDL; for LDL particles the apo ϵ2 allele was associated with a lower cholesterol to protein (C/P) ratio, whereas the opposite was true for the apo ϵ4 allele. Despite the demonstrated impact of apo E polymorphism on plasma lipids and LDL chemical composition, in all phenotypic groups a dense LDL subfraction profile predominated. Thus, apo E polymorphism contributes to the lipid phenotypic expression in FCH, whereas further evidence was obtained that a dense LDL subfraction profile is an integral feature of FCH.


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