Apolipoprotein E (apo E) plays a role in the regulation of the lipid metabolism of humans. Apo E, 229 amino acid polypeptide, is classified into three major isoform (E2, E3, E4) according to the differences of amino acid in position 112 and 158. In the normal population apo E3 isoform is most prevalent and apo E2 or E4 is frequently associated with hyperlipoproteinemia. To find out the frequency of apo E isoform distribution in the Korean population, apo E genotyping was performed. After amplification of apoE gene by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), restriction isotyping was done by cleavage with restriction enzyme Hha I and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The apo E allele frequency in 73 normal subjects was 4.8% for E2, 84.9% for E3 and 10.3% for E4. In diabetic patient with hyperlipoproteinemia, the frequency of apo E allele was 6.3% for E2, 81.0% for E3 and 12.7% for E4. There was no significant difference in apo E isoform distribution between diabetics and normal populations. But in patients with cardiovascular disease with hyperlipidemia, the apo E4 allele frequency was significantly higher than normal (20.0% vs 10.3%, p < 0.005). Apo E3 was the most common isoform in normal and diabetic subjects and apo E2 isoform was rather low frequency compared to Caucasians. This pattern is similar to the Japanese population but somewhat different from other populations. From the data of a high association of apo E4 allele and cardiovascular disease with hypercholesterolemia, apo E isoform may be one of the determinants of hyperlipoproteinemia. The PCR method may be useful in apo E genotyping.
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