The relationship between apolipoprotein E (apoE) polymorphism and plasma lipids and hyperlipemia was investigated in 105 male type II diabetics and 111 male nondiabetics. ApoE phenotypes were determined by a one-dimensional rapid flat gel isoelectric focusing method as described previously. The apoE phenotype frequency in diabetics was similar to that in nondiabetics.

The frequency of hyperlipemia was higher in diabetics (56.2%) than in nondiabetics (32.4%). It was highest in the apoE3/2 group of diabetics and nondiabetics, followed by the apoE4/3 and apoE3/3 groups in the order described, indicating that the susceptibility to hyperlipemia differs among the apoE phenotype groups. ApoE3/2 diabetics had significantly higher levels of apoE and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol (chol)/VLDL triglyceride (TG) ratios than apoE3/3 diabetics. The effects of diabetes mellitus on plasma lipid levels differed among the various apoE phenotype groups: i.e., plasma total chol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) chol increased only in apoE3/2 and apoE4/3 diabetics and plasma high-density lipoprotein chol decreased only in apoE3/3 diabetics, as compared with the corresponding apoE phenotype groups of nondiabetics, whereas plasma TG, VLDL TG, and VLDL chol increased in the three apoE phenotype diabetics. Furthermore, an increase of apoEII; apoEIII ratio was observed in apoE3/3 diabetics, particularly in those with hypertriglyceridemia. This study has also shown that the increased apoEII: apoEIII ratio is due to increased sialation of apoE based on the study of sialidase digestion of apo VLDL.

We conclude that apoE polymorphism should be taken into consideration when plasma lipoprotein patterns are studied in type II diabetics and that increased sialation of apoE may at least partly contribute to an increased frequency of hypertriglyceridemia in type II diabetics.

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