High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are anti-atherogenic lipoproteins that have a major role in transporting cholesterol from peripheral tissues to the liver, where it is removed. Epidemiologic studies have shown that low levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) are associated with an increased incidence of coronary heart disease and an increased mortality rate, indicating a protective role of high concentrations of HDL-C against atherogenesis and the development of coronary heart disease. HDL-C level is influenced by several genetic and nongenetic factors. Nongenetic factors include smoking, which has been shown to decrease the HDL-C level. Exercise and alcohol have been shown to increase HDL-C levels. Decreased HDL-C is often associated with other coronary heart disease risk factors such as obesity, hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance, hypertriglyceridemia and hypertension. Although several genes have been identified for rare forms of dyslipidemia, the genes accounting for major variation in HDL-C levels have yet to be identified. Using a multipoint variance components linkage approach, we found strong evidence of linkage (lod score=3.4; P=0.00004) of a quantitative trait locus (QTL) for HDL-C level to a genetic location between markers D9S925 and D9S741 on chromosome 9p in Mexican Americans. A replication study in an independent set of Mexican American families confirmed the existence of a QTL on chromosome 9p.
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