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J Transl Med. 2013 Mar 20;11:67. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-11-67.

Significantly fewer protein functional changing variants for lipid metabolism in Africans than in Europeans.

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Human Genetics Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



The disorders in metabolism of energy substances are usually related to some diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and cancer, etc. However, the genetic background for these disorders has not been well understood. In this study, we explored the genetic risk differences among human populations in metabolism (catabolism and biosynthesis) of energy substances, including lipids, carbohydrates and amino acids.


Two genotype datasets (Hapmap and 1000 Genome) were used for this study. The genetic risks of protein functional changing variants (PFCVs) on genes involved in lipid, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism were calculated using two genetic risk indices: the total number of PFCVs (Num) and the total possibly harmful score of PFCVs (R). Observations in these two genotype datasets consistently showed that Africans had lower genetic risk in lipid metabolism (both catabolic and biosynthetic processes) compared to Europeans. However this relationship was not observed in carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism.


Our results suggested that Africans had higher efficiency of utilizing lipids as energy substances than Europeans. In other words, lipids might be more preferred as energy substances in Africans than in Europeans.

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