Background: A common polymorphism in the hepatic lipase (HL) gene promoter, -514C/T, affecting enzyme activity, has been associated with alterations in plasma lipoprotein levels. However a relationship with coronary heart disease (CHD) is less well documented.
Design and methods: We studied HL -514 C/T in 562 Caucasian CHD patients aged under 50 years and in 642 Caucasian community recruited subjects without historical evidence of CHD.
Results: Male CHD subjects (n = 490) had a 41% carrier rate for the C to T substitution, compared with 33% in corresponding controls (n = 330), [OR = 1.42 (95% CI:1.06-1.90), P < 0.02], T allele frequencies being 0.231 and 0.177 respectively [OR = 1.39 (1.08-1.78), P < 0.01]. In male CHD subjects, the T allele was associated with higher HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) (CC: 0.95 +/- 0.24 (SD); CT: 1.04 +/- 0.41; TT: 1.01 +/- 0.20 mmol/l, P = 0.02, ANOVA) but the trend was not significant in females. In male CHD patients the T allele was more frequently encountered in those with high (> 4.5 mmol/l) than in those with low triglycerides [68% vs. 39%, OR = 3.13 (1.54-6.67), P = 0.001]. In community control subjects, the T allele was associated with a trend to higher HDL-C levels, the significance varying between subgroups while, in males, serum total and LDL-cholesterol were significantly lower in T homozygotes than in the other two genotypes (LDL-C: 2.73 +/- 0.63 vs. 3.56 +/- 0.95 mmol/l; P = 0.01). During the course of this study, a previously unreported promoter region polymorphism was found exclusively on -514C chromosomes (-592A/G, A allele frequency 0.108, 95% CI 0.09 - 0.126). It can lead to mistyping of C as T alleles in C/T heterozygotes, resulting in overestimation of -514 T homozygotes.
Conclusions: The T allele of the hepatic lipase -514 C/T polymorphism is associated with changes in plasma lipids. The superficially paradoxical predisposition to CHD in males is attributable to impairment of TG rich lipoprotein metabolism and reverse cholesterol transport.