Familial hypercholesterolaemia

Clin Biochem Rev. 2004 Feb;25(1):49-68.


Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), defined as the heritable occurrence of severe hypercholesterolaemia with cholesterol deposits in tendons and premature heart disease, is caused by at least four genes in sterol and lipoprotein pathways and displays varying gene-dose effects. The genes are the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor, apolipoprotein (apo) B, proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9, and the autosomal recessive hypercholesterolaemia (ARH) adaptor protein. All of these disorders have in common defective clearance of LDL within a complex system of lipid and lipoprotein metabolism and regulation. Normal cellular cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism is reviewed before describing the disorders, their metabolic derangements and their clinical effects. FH is classified as two simplified phenotypes of disease according to the severity of the metabolic derangement. The dominantly inherited heterozygous phenotype comprises defects in the LDL receptor, apoB100, and neural apoptosis regulatory cleavage protein. The homozygous phenotype is co-dominant in defects of the LDL receptor, and occurs also as the ARH of adapter protein mutations. Defective binding of apoB100 does not result in a significant gene dose effect, but enhances the severity of heterozygotes for LDL receptor mutations. The genetic diagnosis of FH has provided greater accuracy in definition and detection of disease and exposes information about migration of populations. All of these disorders pose a high risk of atherosclerosis, especially in the homozygous phenotype. Studies of influences on the phenotype and responses to treatment are also discussed in the context of the metabolic derangements.