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Atherosclerosis. 2000 Apr;149(2):371-7.

Paraoxonase gene polymorphisms are associated with carotid arterial wall thickness in subjects with familial hypercholesterolemia.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Chemistry, Room G03.647, University Hospital Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Human serum paraoxonase (PON) is a high density lipoprotein (HDL) associated enzyme capable of hydrolyzing lipid peroxides in vitro. PON has recently attracted attention as a protective factor against oxidative modification of LDL and may therefore play an important role in the prevention of the atherosclerotic process. Two frequent mutations at the paraoxonase gene locus (PON1) are the leucine (L allele)-->methionine (M allele) and the glutamine (Q allele)-->arginine (R allele) substitutions at residues 55 and 192, respectively. We have examined the influence of these two polymorphisms on carotid atherosclerosis in familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) patients. The allele frequencies of these two polymorphisms were determined by PCR and restriction fragment analysis, for both the FH population and healthy controls. High resolution B-mode ultrasound was used to assess intima-media wall thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery. No differences were found in allele frequencies between the FH and the control population. In FH patients, the LL, LM and MM genotypes at position 55 occurred in 86 (46.0%), 78 (41.7%) and 23 (12.3%) subjects, respectively, whereas the QQ, QR and RR genotypes at position 192 were found in 90 (48.1%), 79 (42.2%) and 18 (9.6%) individuals. When both polymorphisms were considered separately, no different carotid IMTs were found between the genotype groups. However, our data did show a significant association between the various genotypes of the combined polymorphisms at position 55 and 192 of PON1 and the carotid artery IMT in FH subjects. Subjects with the homozygous wildtype LL/QQ for paraoxonase had the highest mean carotid IMTs when compared to other genotypes, combined. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated age (beta=0.34, P<0.0001), total plasma cholesterol (beta=0.17, P=0. 0109) and the LL/QQ genotype of the PON1 gene (beta=0.22, P=0.0018) to be significant risk factors for carotid atherosclerosis in subjects with FH. The LL/QQ genotype could explain 5.3% of total variance of carotid IMT. In conclusion, this is the first study to report an independent association between the combined PON1 polymorphism genotypes and carotid wall thickness. The homozygous wildtype LL/QQ for PON1 may represent an additional risk factor for carotid atherosclerosis in subjects with FH.

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