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Genetic variants in lipid metabolism are independently associated with multiple features of the metabolic syndrome

Cécile M Povel12*, Jolanda MA Boer1, Sandra Imholz3, Martijn ET Dollé3 and Edith JM Feskens2

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Nutrition and Health (CVG), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, the Netherlands

2 Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands

3 Laboratory for Health Protection Research (GBO), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, the Netherlands

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2011, 10:118  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-10-118

Published: 18 July 2011



Our objective was to find single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), within transcriptional pathways of glucose and lipid metabolism, which are related to multiple features of the metabolic syndrome (MetS).


373 SNPs were measured in 3575 subjects of the Doetinchem cohort. Prevalence of MetS features, i.e. hyperglycemia, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL-cholesterol levels and hypertension, were measured twice in 6 years. Associations between the SNPs and the individual MetS features were analyzed by log-linear models. For SNPs related to multiple MetS features (P < 0.01), we investigated whether these associations were independent of each other.


Two SNPs, CETP Ile405Val and APOE Cys112Arg, were associated with both the prevalence of low HDL-cholesterol level (Ile405Val P = < .0001; Cys112Arg P = 0.001) and with the prevalence of abdominal obesity (Ile405Val P = 0.007; Cys112Arg P = 0.007). For both SNPs, the association with HDL-cholesterol was partly independent of the association with abdominal obesity and vice versa.


Two SNPs, mainly known for their role in lipid metabolism, were associated with two MetS features i.e., low HDL-cholesterol concentration, as well as, independent of this association, abdominal obesity. These SNPs may help to explain why low HDL-cholesterol levels and abdominal obesity frequently co-occur.

HDL-cholesterol; abdominal obesity; metabolic syndrome; CETP; APOE