Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) plays a crucial role in the hydrolysis of the triglyceride core of circulating chylomicrons and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) and also has a major effect on the levels and lipid composition of high density lipoproteins (HDL). LPL deficiency is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait and most commonly presents with chylomicronaemia, abdominal pain, and eruptive xanthomata. We have previously described a mutation in exon 5 of the LPL gene which results in a substitution of glutamic acid for glycine at amino acid 188. We have now assessed 16 South African LPL deficient patients from nine separate kindreds for this mutation. Nine of these probands were homozygous for the mutation and were from four families, all of Indian descent. The ancestors of these probands have their origins in villages close to Bombay, India, which suggests a common ancestral mutation for the four Indian kindreds, particularly as the mutant allele in each family carried the identical restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) haplotype. The presence of at least nine affected subjects in this small community around Cape Town is evidence for a higher than expected gene frequency for LPL deficiency in this population.
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