The concentration of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) in humans is partially determined by genetic factors; however, the role of these factors is incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence and characteristics of CETP, LIPC, and SCARB1 variants in Korean individuals with extremely high HDL-C levels. We also analysed associations between these variants and cholesterol efflux capacity (CEC), reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) expression. Of 13,545 participants in the cardiovascular genome cohort, 42 subjects with HDL-C levels >100 mg/dL were analysed. The three target genes were sequenced by targeted next-generation sequencing, the functional effects of detected variants were predicted, and CEC was assessed using a radioisotope and apolipoprotein B-depleted sera. We observed two rare variants of CETP in 13 individuals (rare variant c.A1196G [p.D399G] of CETP was discovered in 12 subjects) and one rare variant of SCARB1 in one individual. Furthermore, all subjects had at least one of four common variants (one CETP and three LIPC variants). Two additional novel CETP variants of unknown frequency were found in two subjects. However, the identified variants did not show significant associations with CEC, ROS generation, or VCAM-1 expression. Our study provides additional insights into the role of genetics in individuals with extremely high HDL-C.
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