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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 1, 2005

The Common Polymorphism of Apolipoprotein E: Geographical Aspects and New Pathophysiological Relations

Lars Ulrik Gerdes
From the journal


Apolipoprotein E (apoE) has important functions in systemic and local lipid transport, but also has other functions. The gene (APOE) shows a common polymorphism with three alleles – APOE*2, APOE*3, and APOE*4. Their frequencies vary substantially around the world, but APOE*3 is the most common almost everywhere and is often considered to be the ancestral or “wild-type” allele for that reason. However, there are several arguments for APOE*4 being the ancestral allele. But then, why has APOE*3 become so frequent? And why has APOE*4 not become extinct? The proportion of APOE*4 carriers increases from only 10–15% in southern Europe to 40–50% in the north. The gradient may be a trace of the demic expansion of agriculture that began about 10,000 years ago, but it may also reflect the possibility that APOE*4 carriers are less likely to develop vitamin D deficiency. The common APOE polymorphism is associated with varying risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease, but other interesting aspects may emerge in the future.

Published Online: 2005-06-01
Published in Print: 2003-05-15

Copyright © 2003 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG

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