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J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Aug;16(4):313-24.

Diet-gene interactions in human lipoprotein metabolism.

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Children's Hospital Research Institute, Oakland, CA, USA.


Genetic variation can influence the effects of hypocholesterolemic dietary interventions on lipoproteins involved in coronary artery disease (CAD). Individuals with the E4 allelic variant of the apo E gene exhibit greater low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol reductions on low-fat, low-cholesterol diets than subjects with other alleles. Another apolipoprotein structural variant, apo A-IV-2, attenuates the response of LDL cholesterol to dietary cholesterol. Other studies have associated lipoprotein response to dietary modifications with DNA polymorphisms in the genes for apo B and the LDL receptor, and in the promoter region of the apo A-I gene. Studies in our laboratory involving variation in dietary fat and carbohydrate intake have demonstrated that alleles at the apo E gene locus are associated with changes in large, buoyant but not smaller, denser LDL subclasses. On the other hand, a low-fat diet induces a reduction in small, dense LDL in individuals with a genetically influenced metabolic profile characterized by a predominance of these particles. Moreover, reductions in LDL cholesterol and apo B in these subjects are greater than in the majority of subjects with larger LDL. Since in humans a predominance of small LDL signifies a higher risk for coronary artery disease than that associated with larger LDL, metabolic and genetic factors contributing to the small LDL trait may account for a substantial portion of the coronary risk benefit attributed to reduced-fat diets. Studies in large population groups or in suitable animal models will be necessary to determine the impact of genetic influences on dietary response affecting lipoprotein metabolism and their interactions with other environmental and hormonal factors.

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