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Angiology. 2003 Jan;54(1):59-71.

Apolipoprotein E polymorphism and atherosclerosis.

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Cardiology Department, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre, Athens, Greece.


The relationship between apolipoprotein (apo) E and vascular disease has been the subject of a considerable amount of research. However, this relationship is far from clearly defined. This deficiency appears to be due to a multitude of factors. Among these are differences in ethnicity, age (and possibly gender), diagnostic criteria, and environmental factors (eg, diet and smoking) that have contributed to the contradictory findings. Several diseases and their treatment may also influence this relationship. There are also documented interactions between apo E genotypes and other genes or vascular risk factors. One possible clinically relevant application of identifying the apo E genotype could be to assess the response to a particular drug treatment. It may also be that apo E polymorphism will become a good predictor of vascular death (eg, from myocardial infarction or stroke) rather than an indicator of the risk of developing vascular disease but without an acute ischemic event. More research is required to define the place of apo E genotyping in the management of vascular disease in its various forms. Whatever the future brings, the evaluation of apo E genotypes will need to be rapid, cheap, and technically undemanding before this investigation becomes widely available and clinically relevant.

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