Studies of familial type III hyperlipoproteinemia using as a genetic marker the apoE phenotype E2/2.
Clinical symptoms, lipoprotein patterns, and apoE phenotypes were determined in 17 individuals with type III hyperlipoproteinemia (type III HLP) and in their relatives and spouses. The apoE phenotype E2/2 occurred in 15 type III HLP probands (88%) and the apoE phenotype E4/2 was found in 2 probands. In each of the families studied, the apoE phenotype inheritance was compatible with a model we previously proposed in which apoE is determined at a single genetic locus with three common alleles. The apoE phenotypes E4/4, E3/3, and E2/2 represent homozygosity for the apoE alleles epsilon4, epsilon3, and epsilon2, respectively, whereas the apoE phenotypes E4/3, E3/2, and E4/2 represent heterozygosity for the apoE alleles epsilon4/epsilon3, epsilon3/epsilon2, and epsilon4/epsilon2, respectively. Plasma lipids in 69 relatives of type III HLP probands were analyzed by apoE phenotype and revealed no significant differences between phenotypes in the levels of cholesterol, triglyceride, or HDL cholesterol. However, there were differences between the apoE phenotypes in LDL cholesterol levels (P = 0.01) and in the ratio of VLDL cholesterol/total triglyceride (ratio) (P < 0.01). Relatives with the apoE phenotype E2/2 had the lowest LDL cholesterol levels and the highest ratios. Of these eleven individuals with the apoE phenotype E2/2 who were not type III HLP probands, two males were taking lipid-lowering drugs, one male had mild angina at age 59, five individuals had ratios >0.25 and two had ratios >0.30 with the ratios for males (0.28 +/-0.06) significantly greater than the ratios for females (0.17 +/-0.06) (P < 0.01), and seven had evidence of floating betaVLDL on lipoprotein electrophoresis. In addition, when compared to a control group in the general population, the whole group of relatives had normal cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels, slightly low LDL cholesterol levels, and almost twice elevated triglyceride levels. In summary, a) a very strong but not invariate association exists between type III HLP and the apoE phenotype E2/2 with some type III HLP individuals having the apoE phenotype E4/2; b) apoE phenotype inheritance is determined by three alleles at a single genetic locus; c) relatives of type III HLP probands, no matter what their apoE phenotype, have on the average nearly twofold elevated plasma triglyceride levels compared to a control population; and d) non-proband type III HLP individuals with the apoE phenotype E2/2 have been identified. As a group these individuals, particularly the males, show a tendency to express type III HLP, but clearly genetic or environmental factors other than the apoE phenotype E2/2 are required for the full phenotypic expression of this disease.-Breslow, J. L., V. I. Zannis, T. R. SanGiacomo, J. L. H. C. Third, T. Tracy, and C. J. Glueck. Studies of familial type III hyperlipoproteinemia using as a genetic marker the apoE phenotype E2/2.