Visual Abstract

Introduction: Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) plays an important role in cholesterol metabolism and attenuation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation. While protecting against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense infection, APOL1 risk alleles confer greater risk for CKD and cardiovascular disease among patients of African descent. Objectives: We investigated whether APOL1 risk variants are associated with atherosclerosis and oxidized LDL (OxLDL) levels among black South African CKD patients. Methods: A cross-sectional study of 120 adult CKD patients and 40 controls was undertaken. DNA samples of participants were genotyped for APOL1 G1 and G2 variants. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein, serum lipids, and OxLDL levels were measured, and carotid doppler ultrasonography was performed on all participants. Results:APOL1 alleles rs73885319, rs60910145, and rs71785313 had minor allele frequencies of 9.2, 8.8, and 17.5%, respectively, in the patients, and 8.8, 8.8, and 13.8%, respectively, in the controls. Of the 9 patients with 2 APOL1 risk alleles, 77.8% were compound G1/G2 heterozygotes and 22.2% were G2 homozygotes. Carriers of at least 1 APOL1 risk allele had a 3-fold increased risk of subclinical atherosclerosis (odds ratio 3.19; 95% confidence interval: 1.64–6.19; p = 0.01) compared to individuals with no risk alleles. Patients with 1 or 2 APOL1 risk alleles showed a significant increase in OxLDL levels when compared with those without the APOL1 risk allele. Conclusion: These findings suggest an increased risk for atherosclerosis in carriers of a single APOL1 risk variant, and the presence of APOL1 risk variants was associated with increased serum OxLDL levels in black South African CKD patients.

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