Published Date: August 9, 2020

Full Text Article

2019 George Lyman Duff Memorial Lecture: Three Decades of Examining DNA in Patients With Dyslipidemia

Authors: Robert A Hegele, Jacqueline S Dron

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2020 Sep;40(9):1970-1981. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.120.313065. Epub 2020 Jul 30.


Dyslipidemias include both rare single gene disorders and common conditions that have a complex underlying basis. In London, ON, there is fortuitous close physical proximity between the Lipid Genetics Clinic and the London Regional Genomics Centre. For >30 years, we have applied DNA sequencing of clinical samples to help answer scientific questions. More than 2000 patients referred with dyslipidemias have participated in an ongoing translational research program. In 2013, we transitioned to next-generation sequencing; our targeted panel is designed to concurrently assess both monogenic and polygenic contributions to dyslipidemias. Patient DNA is screened for rare variants underlying 25 mendelian dyslipidemias, including familial hypercholesterolemia, hepatic lipase deficiency, abetalipoproteinemia, and familial chylomicronemia syndrome. Furthermore, polygenic scores for LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and triglycerides are calculated for each patient. We thus simultaneously document both rare and common genetic variants, allowing for a broad view of genetic predisposition for both individual patients and cohorts. For instance, among patients referred with severe hypertriglyceridemia, defined as ≥10 mmol/L (≥885 mg/dL), <1% have a mendelian disorder (ie, autosomal recessive familial chylomicronemia syndrome), ≈15% have heterozygous rare variants (a >3-fold increase over normolipidemic individuals), and ≈35% have an extreme polygenic score (a >3-fold increase over normolipidemic individuals). Other dyslipidemias show a different mix of genetic determinants. Genetic results are discussed with patients and can support clinical decision-making. Integrating DNA testing into clinical care allows for a bidirectional flow of information, which facilitates scientific discoveries and clinical translation.

PMID: 32762461DOI: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.120.313065