Current Diagnosis and Management of Tangier Disease

J Atheroscler Thromb. 2021 Aug 1;28(8):802-810. doi: 10.5551/jat.RV17053. Epub 2021 May 14.


Tangier disease is a genetic disorder characterized by an absence or extremely low level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (HDL-C). It is caused by a dysfunctional mutation of the ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) gene, the mandatory gene for generation of HDL particles from cellular cholesterol and phospholipids, and it appears in an autosomal recessive hereditary profile. To date, 35 cases have been reported in Japan and 109 cases outside Japan. With dysfunctional mutations in both alleles (homozygotes or compound heterozygotes), the HDL-C level is mostly less than 5 mg/dL and there is 10 mg/dL or less of apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), the major protein component of HDL. In patients with Tangier disease, major physical findings are orange-colored pharyngeal tonsils, hepatosplenomegaly, corneal opacity, lymphadenopathy, and peripheral neuropathy. Although patients tend to have decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, premature coronary artery disease is frequently observed. No specific curative treatment is currently available, so early identification of patients and preventing atherosclerosis development are crucial. Management of risk factors other than low HDL-C is also important, such as LDL-C levels, hypertension and smoking. Additionally, treatment for glucose intolerance might be required because impaired insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells has occasionally been reported.

Keywords: ABCA1; Atherosclerosis; Cholesterol efflux; HDL; Orange tonsil; Reverse cholesterol transport; Tangier disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Tangier Disease / diagnosis*
  • Tangier Disease / metabolism
  • Tangier Disease / therapy*