The aim of this study was to determine the effects of polymorphisms in the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) on lipid levels in Korean adults and to investigate the interactions between these polymorphisms and environmental factors in determining lipid levels. We performed a cross-sectional study of 1,900 subjects (668 men and 1,232 women; 45-74 yr old) in Namwon, Korea, in 2004. APOE polymorphisms were determined by polymerase chain reaction and restriction enzyme analysis. Carriers of the APOE*E2 (E2) allele had significantly lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations than did carriers of the APOE*E3 (E3) or APOE*E4 (E4) alleles, regardless of gender. The APOE allele type had significant effect on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglyceride levels in women, but not in men. The effect of APOE allele type on HDL-C levels was modified by age in women. In addition, in men, the effect of APOE allele type on triglyceride levels was modified by smoking. These findings highlight the important effect of gene-environment interactions on lipid levels.
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