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Clin Chem. 1995 Aug;41(8 Pt 1):1068-86.

Apolipoprotein E: an important gene and protein to follow in laboratory medicine.

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Laboratoire du Centre de Médecine Préventive, URA CNRS 597 alliée à l'INSERM, Vandoeuvre Les Nancy, France.


The human apolipoprotein (apo) E gene is polymorphic, with three common alleles (epsilon 2, epsilon 3, epsilon 4) coding for three isoforms (E2, E3, E4). The isoforms differ from each other by a single amino acid substitution, and also differ in their binding affinity for the four apo E receptors. Apo E polymorphism is an important determinant of risk for the development of cardiovascular and Alzheimer diseases, the prevalence of the epsilon 4 allele being increased in both kinds of patients compared with control subjects. Furthermore, the prevalence of the epsilon 4 allele differs among populations (range 5-40%, respectively, for Taiwanese and Papua New Guineans). Genotyping or phenotyping needs to be introduced in clinical laboratories. The choice of the method should be based on the types of patients who are examined. The apo E genotype is also a determinant of apo E plasma concentration. Standardization of apo E measurement is an important prerequisite before investigating the clinical interest of plasma apo E concentration. Determination of apo E genotype/phenotype and later the plasma concentration are expected to yield useful clinical laboratory information.

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