Differential diagnosis of familial high density lipoprotein deficiency syndromes


      Monogenic high density lipoprotein (HDL) deficiency, because of defects in the genes of apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), adenosine triphosphate binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) or lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT), can be assumed in patients with HDL cholesterol levels below the fifth percentile within a given population. As in a first step underlying diseases should be excluded. Patients with a virtual absence of HDL must undergo careful physical examination to unravel the clinical hallmarks of certain HDL deficiency syndromes. In addition, family studies should be initiated, to demonstrate the vertical transmission of the low HDL cholesterol phenotype. Definitive diagnosis requires specialized biochemical tests and the demonstration of a functionally-relevant mutation in one of the three discussed candidate genes. As yet no routinely used drug is able to increase HDL cholesterol levels in patients with familial low HDL cholesterol so that prevention of cardiovascular disease in these patients must be focused on the avoidance and treatment of additional risk factors.


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