Apolipoprotein E is a genetic risk factor for fetal iodine deficiency disorder in China

H Y Wang, F C Zhang, J J Gao, J B Fan, P Liu, Z J Zheng, H Xi, Y Sun, X C Gao, T Z Huang, Z J Ke, G R Guo, G Y Feng, G Breen, D St Clair, L He

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Fetal iodine deficiency disorder (FIDD) is the principal form of endemic cretinism, and the most common cause of preventable mental deficiency in the world. However not everyone at risk develops FIDD and familial aggregation is common. This suggests that genetic factors may also be involved. The Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene encodes for a lipoprotein that possesses a thyroid hormone binding domain, and APOE genotype may affect the efficiency with which thyroid hormone influences neuronal cell growth during the first and second trimesters of fetal development. We have compared ApoE genotypes in 91 FIDD cases with 154 local control subjects, recruited from three iodine deficiency areas in central China. We have also genotyped 42 FIDD family cases and 158 normal individuals from the families of local controls, and 375 population controls from Shanghai, APOE epsilon 4 genotypes were significantly enriched in FIDD probands from each of the three iodine deficiency areas; the epsilon 4 allele frequency was 16% vs 6% in controls. The same effect was also observed when we compared FIDD family cases with controls and control families. Our data suggest that in iodine-deficient areas, the APOE epsilon 4 allele is a genetic risk factor for FIDD, The phenomenon may affect population selection and contribute to the low frequency of the epsilon 4 allele in Chinese compared to Caucasian populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-368
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • fetal iodine deficiency disorder
  • endemic cretinism
  • APOE genotype
  • apolipoprotein
  • China
  • mental retardation


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