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J Mol Med (Berl). 1997 May;75(5):364-70.

Are Canadian Inuit at increased genetic risk for coronary heart disease?

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Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The Keewatin Inuit of the Northwest Territories of Canada have a very low age-adjusted mortality rate from coronary heart disease. We hypothesized that this apparent protection from disease has a genetic basis. We determined the prevalence of the disease-associated alleles of five candidate genes for atherosclerosis-related phenotypes. Surprisingly, four of the five alleles studied, namely AGT T235, FABP2 T54, PON R192 and APOE E4, were significantly more frequent in a sample of 175 Keewatin Inuit than among a representative control sample of whites living in the region. The high frequencies of these disease-associated alleles suggests either that they have no relationship with disease susceptibility in the Inuit, or that some unmeasured genetic and/or environmental factors mitigate disease susceptibility that is associated with these alleles. This highlights the difficulty in extrapolating findings from one population to another. Also, very modest genotype-phenotype associations were observed between APOE genotype (P = 0.016) and plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration and between FABP2 genotype and plasma 2-h postprandial, glucose concentration (P = 0.048). The relationship between APOE alleles and plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was the same as has been previously reported in many study samples. However, the relationship between FABP2 alleles and plasma 2-h postprandial glucose concentrations was the opposite to that reported in other studies. This suggests that differences in environment, such as the type of fatty acid consumed, interacts with functional differences in gene products involved in candidate metabolic pathways to produce phenotypic differences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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