OBJECTIVE--To elucidate the relationship, if any, between lipid abnormalities and apolipoprotein E (apo E) polymorphism, by investigating apo E phenotype and allele frequency. METHODS--Fasting blood samples were taken for determination of apo E phenotype and serum lipids in 221 male patients with gout and 141 control male subjects. Apo E phenotype was determined by one dimensional flat gel isoelectric focusing. RESULTS--Frequencies of apo E phenotypes in gout were apo E3/3 67.9%, E4/3 18.1%, E4/4 2.3%, E4/2 1.8%, E3/2 9.5%, and E2/2 0.5%; those in control male subjects were 74.5%, 15.6%, 0%, 1.4%, 7.1%, and 1.4%, respectively. Frequencies of the e2, e3, and e4 alleles in gout were 0.061, 0.817 and 0.122, compared with the corresponding control frequencies of 0.057, 0.858 and 0.085. These differences in apo E phenotype and allele frequencies between gout and control subjects were not significant. The frequency of apo e4 allele in hyperlipidaemic gout subjects was significantly greater than that in normolipidaemic gout subjects; in contrast, its frequency was not different between hyperlipidaemic and normolipidaemic control subjects. Serum triglyceride, total cholesterol, apo B and E concentrations were significantly greater in gouty patients with the apo E4/3 phenotype than in those with gout having the apo E3/3 phenotype. CONCLUSIONS--These data suggest that gout subjects with hyperlipidaemia (hypertriglyceridaemia, hypercholesterolaemia or both) possess the apo e4 allele with higher frequency than those with normolipidaemia. They also suggest that apo e4 may induce some susceptibility to the development of hyperlipidaemia in gout in addition to that induced by obesity or excessive alcohol consumption, and may contribute to the high prevalence of atherosclerotic diseases in gout patients.
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