Unique features of high-density lipoproteins in the Japanese: in population and in genetic factors

Nutrients. 2015 Apr 2;7(4):2359-81. doi: 10.3390/nu7042359.


Despite its gradual increase in the past several decades, the prevalence of atherosclerotic vascular disease is low in Japan. This is largely attributed to difference in lifestyle, especially food and dietary habits, and it may be reflected in certain clinical parameters. Plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, a strong counter risk for atherosclerosis, are indeed high among the Japanese. Accordingly, lower HDL seems to contribute more to the development of coronary heart disease (CHD) than an increase in non-HDL lipoproteins at a population level in Japan. Interestingly, average HDL levels in Japan have increased further in the past two decades, and are markedly higher than in Western populations. The reasons and consequences for public health of this increase are still unknown. Simulation for the efficacy of raising HDL cholesterol predicts a decrease in CHD of 70% in Japan, greater than the extent by reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol predicted by simulation or achieved in a statin trial. On the other hand, a substantial portion of hyperalphalipoproteinemic population in Japan is accounted for by genetic deficiency of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP), which is also commonly unique in East Asian populations. It is still controversial whether CETP mutations are antiatherogenic. Hepatic Schistosomiasis is proposed as a potential screening factor for historic accumulation of CETP deficiency in East Asia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asian People
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics*
  • Cholesterol Ester Transfer Proteins / blood
  • Cholesterol Ester Transfer Proteins / deficiency*
  • Cholesterol Ester Transfer Proteins / genetics
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Coronary Disease / blood
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / blood
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / epidemiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • CETP protein, human
  • Cholesterol Ester Transfer Proteins
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL

Supplementary concepts

  • Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Deficiency