Apolipoprotein E (apoE) mediates lipid metabolism both in peripheral and in the brain. The human APOE gene has three polymorphic alleles that influence the risk for various types of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. A potential association between APOE allele and the risk for gastric cancer has been implicated, but the specific allele involved and potential associations with the subtype and the grade of cancer malignancy need further clarification. We screened the APOE genotype in 550 gastric cancer patients and 550 non-cancer control individuals and found that the presence of the APOE ε2 and lower serum total cholesterol are associated with an increased risk for gastric cancer (all P ≤ 0.0005). Interestingly, APOE ε2 is also correlated with increased risk for both intestinal and diffuse histotypes but not with TN classification or stage in gastric cancer patients, suggesting that APOE polymorphic alleles are associated with the risk of development but unlikely the progression of gastric cancer. Since ε2 carriers have lower levels of serum total cholesterol than non-ε2 carriers, our findings suggest that the increased risk for gastric cancer by APOE ε2 allele might be mediated through lowered serum total cholesterol levels.
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