Haplotype analysis of the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene was performed in Norwegian subjects heterozygous for familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). Southern blot analysis of genomic DNA, using an exon 18 specific probe and the restriction enzyme NcoI, showed that two out of 57 unrelated FH subjects had an abnormal 3.6 kb band. Further analyses revealed that this abnormal band was due to a 9.6 kb deletion that included exons 16 and 17. The 5' deletion breakpoint was after 245 bp of intron 15, and the 3' deletion breakpoint was in exon 18 after nucleotide 3390 of cDNA. Thus, both the membrane-spanning and cytoplasmatic domains of the receptor had been deleted. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method was developed to identify this deletion among other Norwegian FH subjects. As a result of this screening one additional subject was found out of 124 subjects screened. Thus, three out of 181 (1.7%) unrelated Norwegian FH subject possessed this deletion. The deletion was found on the same haplotype in the three unrelated subjects, suggesting a common mutagenic event. The deletion is identical to a deletion (FH-Helsinki) that is very common among Finnish FH subjects. However, it is not yet known whether the mutations evolved separately in the two countries.
Familial hypercholesterolaemia is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by hypercholesterolaemia, xanthomas and premature coronary heart disease. Treatment of hypercholesterolemia is effective and consists of dietary changes and lipid lowering drugs. Only a minor proportion of familial hypercholesterolaemia patients are adequately treated, however. One explanation for this is assumed to be the relatively vague clinical diagnostic criteria applied. Because familial hypercholesterolaemia is caused by a mutation in the gene encoding the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor, mutation analysis of this gene could form the basis for specific diagnosis. 29 different mutations in the LDL receptor gene have been found to cause familial hypercholesterolaemia among Norwegian patients, and a total of 681 patients from 322 unrelated families have been provided with a molecular genetic diagnosis. We conclude that the use of molecular genetic analysis is feasible, and should be used clinically.
The justified campaign against child abuse has unfortunately had a side effect. It has ruined the lives of some innocent parents of children with undiagnosed osteogenesis imperfecta. For 15 years, Colin Paterson and co-workers have studied a large number of patients with type IV of osteogenesis imperfecta, and have found that more than 50 per cent of them have normal radiographs of the bones at the time of the first fracture. Paterson and co-workers have also found that fractures of the ribs and skull are by no means uncommon in osteogenesis imperfecta type IV. These important observations should help, in the future, to prevent prosecution of innocent parents of children with osteogenesis imperfecta type IV, provided that the observations are not overlooked by pediatricians.
Familial hypercholesterolemia causes premature cardiovascular disease. Genetic screening of patients' relatives who have already been diagnosed has proved to be more efficient than screening in a general population. Privacy laws in Norway forbid physicians to directly contact persons with genetic disorders who are not their own patients. We examined attitudes towards this type of screening in a representative sample of the Norwegian population and a group of patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia. In both groups the majority showed a positive attitude towards physicians contacting relatives directly to detect individuals with familial hypercholesterolaemia. In both groups the majority wanted to know whether, based on the diagnosis of relatives, they might also be affected. Both groups wanted this information regardless of the risk of their being affected. We conclude that the privacy laws should be amended to conform with the attitudes of the population and the patients, thus enabling physicians to contact relatives directly.
We previously reported the results of a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, parallel-group study comparing the efficacy and safety of cerivastatin 0.4 mg/day and cerivastatin 0.2 mg/day in patients with primary hypercholesterolaemia. Exploratory analysis in this study suggested a gender difference in the 0.4 mg group: mean low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) decreased by 44.4 +/- 8.9% in women, compared with a mean decrease of 37.0 +/- 0.9% in men (p 40%, compared with 38.0% (n = 76) of men taking the same dose. In the cerivastatin 0.2 mg PP population, 34% (n = 17) of women had an LDL-C decrease of > 40%, compared with 19% (n = 18) of men. Mean LDL-C/HDL-C ratio decreased by 43% from baseline to the end of the study in the cerivastatin 0.4 mg PP group: -41.3% in males vs. -48.3% in females. In the cerivastatin 0.2 mg group, the decrease in LDL-C/HDL-C ratio from baseline to endpoint did not markedly differ between genders: -37.0% for males vs. -37.3% for females. Categorial analysis of the LDL-C/HDL-C ratio found that 90% of PP patients taking cerivastatin 0.4 mg, and 84% of PP patients taking cerivastatin 0.2 mg, had a low CHD risk (defined as a LDL-C/HDL-C ratio
Three founder mutations have been discovered among individuals with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) in Norway: FHElverum and FHSvartor, predicted to be null alleles, and FHC210G, predicted to disrupt the secondary structure of the ligand-binding domain. To clarify the effect of these and other mutations on lipid levels and parental history of premature cardiovascular disease, we examined 164 boys and girls ages 6 to 16 years with heterozygous FH. Among all children, serum cholesterol levels of the FH parent, percent body fat, pubertal stage, and serum cholesterol levels of the non-FH parent, but not apo E polymorphism, were significant determinants of LDL cholesterol levels in a stepwise multiple regression equation and explained 40% (95% confidence interval [Cl], 25% to 55%) of the variance in LDL cholesterol. Among boys, percent body fat, dietary sucrose, and apo E genotype determined 31% (95% CI, 14% to 49%) of the variance in triglyceride levels; whereas among girls, only percent body fat was associated with triglyceride levels. Percent body fat was not associated with LDL cholesterol or triglyceride levels in the FHC210G group. The children's and FH parents' lipid levels and premature cardiovascular disease among parents were similar among the null-allele and defective-protein groups and in those with an undetected mutation. These data confirm that the phenotypic expression of FH in childhood is influenced by modifiable lifestyle characteristics and by genetic factors other than the underlying mutation and raise the possibility that body fatness may interact with genotype in determining lipid levels.
Though severe hyperlipidaemia (total cholesterol level > or = 13 mmol/l in this study) is uncommon, it is important to make a precise diagnosis. We examined 57 patients with isolated severe hypercholesterolaemia. Of these, four were homozygotes for familial hypercholesterolaemia, 48 were heterozygotes for familial hypercholesterolacmia and one had sitosterolemia. The heterozygotes carried 15 different LDL receptor mutations, with no one mutation predominating. When the diagnosis is made, relatives should be given the opportunity to be tested. Combined severe hyperlipidaemia is usually due to a secondary cause, at our clinic, the most common cause is diabetes mellitus. The underlying disease should be treated first. However, many patients will require additional lipid-lowering drugs because the underlying disease may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. With the exception of fish oil capsules, drugs that reduce serum triglyceride levels substantially are not registered in Norway at present.
There are indications that treatment of hypercholesterolemia by means of drugs reduce risk of atherosclerosis in patients with increased concentrations of atherogenic lipoproteins. Such therapy should be initiated only after satisfactory exclusion of secondary causes of hyperlipoproteinemia, and should be regarded as an adjunct to appropriate dietary therapy. Drug therapy should be strongly considered in patients with total cholesterol above 8-9 mmol/l on diet therapy only. Drug therapy should be considered at even lower concentrations of cholesterol when coronary heart disease is present and in familial forms of hyperlipidemia when increased risk of atherosclerosis has been documented. In patients with increased plasma concentrations of total cholesterol the drugs of choice are agents which enhance the rate of LDL catabolism (resins) or reduce the rate of LDL synthesis (nicotinic acid). Fibrates should be used when triglycerides and cholesterol are both increased. HMG CoA reductase inhibitors offer considerable promise in the therapy of patients with primary hypercholesterolemia. Probucol may be used in combination with other drugs, particularly when xanthomas are present in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia.
BACKGROUND AND AIM: Numerous studies suggest an association between high intake of fatty fish and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Very long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be responsible for the benefits observed, though other fatty fish components may act in concert with them. Norwegian fish powder is a dry herring product that contains essential amino acids, marine omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. The aim of the present study was to determine whether it has beneficial effects on risk factors for coronary heart disease in man. METHODS AND RESULTS: A single center, randomized, double-blind, parallel-treatment study was carried out for 12 weeks. Subjects with primary hypercholesterolemia were randomly allocated to 10 g fish powder or placebo (20 tablets/day). Participants were instructed to follow National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Step I Diet during a 4-week diet run-in phase and during the study. Concentrations of lipids, lipoproteins, hemostatic variables and endothelial cell markers were determined before and after supplementation. Our data showed that the fish powder supplement was well tolerated. A significant decrease and increase respectively were observed in plasma alpha-linolenic acid (p = 0.03) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (p = 0.03). Concentrations of lipids, lipoproteins, homocysteine, factor VII, fibrinogen, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, P-selectin and interleukin (IL)-8 were not beneficially affected. CONCLUSIONS: Fish powder supplementation does not seem an effective approach to improve risk factors for coronary heart disease in hypercholesterolemic subjects following the NCEP Step I Diet.