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Diabet Med. 1997 Sep;14(9):748-56.

Divergent association of apolipoprotein E polymorphism with vascular disease in patients with NIDDM and control subjects.

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Department of Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland.


We analysed a well-characterized group of 83 patients (43 men, 40 women; mean age +/- SEM: 65.5 +/- 0.6 years at the 10-year examination) with non-insulin-dependent (Type 2) diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and in 123 control subjects (56 men, 67 women; mean age +/- 0.9 years) retrospectively for the relationship of apolipoprotein E (apo E) genotypes (E2/3, E3/3 vs E3/4, E4/4) to the incidence of clinical macrovascular disease and its risk factors and the incidence of microvascular complications of diabetes during the first 10 years of NIDDM, as well as carotid intima-media thickness measured by B-mode ultrasound at the 10-year examination. In patients with NIDDM, apo E4 genotype showed no relationship to clinical events or carotid intima-media thickness. However, in the control subjects with apo E4, the incidence of non-fatal myocardial infarction during the follow-up was increased (apo E4 positivity: 17.1%; apo E4 negativity 5.1%; p = 0.035) and they had higher common carotid intima-media thickness than those with apo E2/3 or apo E3/3 (1.15 +/- 0.05 mm vs 1.01 +/- 0.03 mm, p = 0.008). Apo E genotype groups showed no relationship to microvascular complications of diabetes, although control subjects with apo E4 positivity showed a higher frequency of microalbuminuria than those lacking apo E4. We conclude that apo E4 was a marker of vascular disease and increased atherosclerosis in non-diabetic subjects, whereas in the diabetic patients these relationships were absent. It is likely that NIDDM per se influences the vascular risk so overwhelmingly that the effects of other risk factors are obscured.

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