, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 287-292

Apolipoprotein E polymorphism in the Netherlands and its effect on plasma lipid and apolipoprotein levels

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By isoelectric focusing of delipidated sera followed by immunoblotting we studied the apolipoprotein (apo) E polymorphism in 2018 randomly selected 35-years-old males from three different areas in the Netherlands. Comparison of the APOE allele (E*2, E*3, and E*4) frequencies estimated in this study with those reported for several other population samples showed that there are marked differences between the Dutch population and the populations of Japan, New Zealand, Finland, and the United States. These differences in APOE allele frequencies appeared to be mainly due to differences in frequencies of the E*2 allele (decreased in Japan and Finland; increased in New Zealand) and the E*4 allele (increased in Finland; decreased in Japan and the United States). No difference in APOE allele frequencies was found between the Dutch population and the populations of West Germany and Scotland. Measurements of plasma cholesterol and apo B and E concentrations showed that the E*4 allele is associated with elevated plasma cholesterol and apo B levels and with decreased apo E concentrations, whereas the opposite is true for the E*2 allele. In the Dutch population, the sum of average allelic effects of the common APOE alleles on plasma cholesterol and apo B levels is 6.8% and 14.2%, respectively, of the total population mean. The total average allelic effect on plasma apo E concentrations was more pronounced (50.1%), suggesting that the APOE alleles primarily affect apo E concentrations rather than plasma cholesterol and apo B levels. This hypothesis is sustained by the observation that for plasma apo E levels the genetic variance associated with the APOE gene locus contributed about 18% to the total phenotypic variance. For plasma cholesterol and apo B this contribution was only 1.4% and 2.3% and is relatively low as compared with that reported for other population samples.