We typed 254 non-insulin-dependent diabetic (NIDDM) Mexican Americans living in Starr County, Texas, for the three common apolipoprotein E (apoE) alleles. Typing was performed via DNA amplification and Hha I restriction. The allele frequencies (ϵ2 = 0.041, ϵ3 = 0.860, ϵ4 = 0.099) were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (χ2 = 0.60, df = 3) and did not differ from a random sample from the same population (χ2 = 0.16, df = 2). Analysis of variance was used to test for mean differences in lipid, lipoprotein, and glucose levels among apoE types. Significant differences among types were detected for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-chol; P = 0.042, R2 = 2.6) and β-lipoprotein cholesterol (P = 0.019, R2 = 3.3) levels. Mean LDL-chol in E2/3 individuals was 2.69 mM, E3/3 was 3.26 mM, and E4/3 was 3.36 mM. Mean β-lipoprotein cholesterol in E2/3 individuals was 3.05 mM, E3/3 was 3.64 mM, and E4/3 was 3.67 mM. Based on these results, we conclude that the effects of the apoE polymorphism on lipid profiles and glucose levels are the same in NIDDM subjects as in nondiabetic Mexican Americans and other populations. Other studies investigating the role of apoE polymorphism in diabetic subjects have found increased triglyceride levels in individuals possessing an ϵ2-allele and an increased frequency of the ϵ2-allele in hyperlipidemic diabetic subjects. We found no significant difference in mean triglyceride levels among genotypes. Possible reasons for this discrepancy are discussed, including DNA- versus protein-typing methods.

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