Plasma concentrations of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol are low in the Saudi Arabian population. A B polymorphism at the CETP (cholesteryl ester protein transfer) locus that is detectable with the restriction enzyme TaqI is a genetic determinant of the plasma HDL cholesterol concentration. We assessed the relationship between the TaqI B CETP polymorphism and lipid and apolipoprotein concentrations in a study sample of 335 Saudi residents. The TaqI B1 and B2 allele frequencies were 0.54 and 0.46 respectively, similar to those in other populations. HDL cholesterol levels in B2B2 homozygotes were significantly higher than in B1B1 homozygotes [1.01 (0.3) compared with 0.92 (0.2) mmol/l; mean (S.D.); P=0.03]. There was also a significant difference between the B2B2 and B1B1 homozygotes with regard to apolipoprotein AI concentration [123.6 (16.4) compared with 113.7 (13.9) mg/dl; P=0.04]. This genetic variation was independent of metabolic risk factors known to influence HDL cholesterol levels. The allele frequency of the TaqI B CETP polymorphism and its relatively modest impact on HDL cholesterol concentrations argue against an important role for this allele, or for strongly linked loci, in determining the low levels of HDL cholesterol seen in the Saudi population.

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