Conventional epidemiological and clinical studies of apolipoprotein A-1 and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol have demonstrated, when examined jointly, that high-density lipoprotein is a better predictor of coronary heart disease. This strategy does not take into account known lipid metabolic relationships. A statistical approach that takes into account apolipoprotein A-1 being a constituent of the high-density lipoprotein particle is more appropriate. Among 1,177 Japanese-American men of the Honolulu Heart Program cohort free of disease at baseline (1980-1982), 182 new coronary heart disease cases developed over a 12-year follow-up period. After removing the linear relationship with high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, a relative measure of apoliprotein A-1 concentration was derived. Based on joint conditions of "low" and "high" relative apoliprotein A-1 concentration and < or =40 and >40 mg/dl for the high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol distribution, four groupings were created. Among relative joint groupings of high/< or =40, low/< or =40, high/>40, and low/>40, respectively, the 12-year coronary heart disease incidence varied from 28.6, 18.2, 8.3, to 11.7 cases per 1,000 person-years. A test of statistical interaction was significant (P=0.028). Additional analyses revealed coronary heart disease cases were more likely among men with triglycerides > 190 mg/dl. Observed patterns of relationships among relative apoliprotein A-1 level, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides with incident coronary heart disease are consistent with patterns noted in clinical, laboratory, and transgenic animal research more capable of elucidating mechanisms of disease causation. This epidemiological study suggests similar mechanisms may be operating at a population level, and may contribute to the public health burden of coronary heart disease.
D. Sharp, NIOSH/HELD/BB, 1095 Willowdale Road (MS 4020), Morgantown, WV 26505, USA