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Eur J Hum Genet. 2005 Oct;13(10):1137-42.

Genetic determinants of plasma HDL-cholesterol levels in familial hypercholesterolemia.

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Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which common genetic variants can explain the variation of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) plasma levels in familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). FH is characterized by elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and premature cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although low HDL-C levels have been shown to affect the severity of the clinical phenotype, little is known about the factors that determine HDL-C levels in these patients. A cohort of 1002 heterozygous FH patients was genotyped for polymorphisms in the genes encoding for ATP-binding cassette transporter A1, apolipoprotein (apo) AIV, apoCIII, apoE, cholesteryl transfer ester protein, hepatic lipase, lipoprotein lipase, and two paraoxonases. Multiple linear regression showed that, together, these polymorphisms explain only 3.9% of the variation of HDL-C plasma levels. When significant two-way interactions between the polymorphisms were also taken into account, the explained variation rose to 12.5%. In a regression model that also incorporated sex, smoking, alcohol use, body mass index, and concomitant beta-blocker use as covariates, the explained variation of HDL-C plasma levels even increased to 32.5%. This study provides direct evidence that multiple, modestly penetrant, but highly prevalent, polymorphisms can explain a substantial part of the variation of HDL-C plasma levels in a representative large cohort of heterozygous FH patients.

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