Diagnosis of heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. DNA analysis complements clinical examination and analysis of serum lipid levels.
The concordance of clinical and molecular genetic diagnoses of heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) was studied in 65 subjects (10 propositi and 55 first-degree relatives) from 10 families with FH. Nine propositi were carriers of the FH-Helsinki deletion of the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor gene, prevalent in the Finnish population, while a new deletion, extending from intron 14 to intron 15 of the LDL receptor gene, was identified in one family. Serum LDL cholesterol levels used in the clinical diagnosis (less than 5.0 mmol/l, not FH; 5.0-5.9 mmol/l, possible FH; greater than or equal to 6.0 mmol/l, FH; limits are 1 mmol/l lower for those less than 18 years) were derived from an authoritative recommendation. Tendon xanthomas constituted an additional criterion. With the DNA analysis as the reference, 55 (85%) subjects could be correctly classified clinically as FH patients or subjects without FH. The remaining 10 subjects were misclassified or were in the "possible FH" category. When the age- and sex-specific 95th percentile LDL cholesterol levels were used instead of the rigid values for both adults and children, the percentage of correct diagnoses rose to 95%. Common genetic polymorphisms of apolipoproteins E and B did not markedly affect LDL cholesterol levels in FH patients, whereas increasing age and obesity were associated with elevated LDL levels. In conclusion, DNA analysis is a valuable adjunct to the diagnosis of FH that is applicable to families with a known mutation of the LDL receptor gene. If DNA methods are not available, age- and sex-specific LDL levels should be used as an aid in the clinical diagnosis of FH.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association