Genetic epidemiology of gallbladder disease in Mexican Americans and cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase gene sequence variation

Jing-Ping Lin, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Among Mexican Americans, the second largest minority group in the United States, the prevalence of gallbladder disease is markedly elevated. Previous data from both genetic admixture and family studies indicate that there is a genetic component to the occurrence of gallbladder disease in Mexican Americans. However, prior to this thesis no formal genetic analysis of gallbladder disease had been carried out nor had any contributing genes been identified. The results of complex segregation analysis in a sample of 232 Mexican American pedigrees documented the existence of a major gene having two alleles with age- and gender-specific effects influencing the occurrence of gallbladder disease. The estimated frequency of the allele increasing susceptibility was 0.39. The lifetime probabilities that an individual will be affected by gallbladder disease were 1.0, 0.54, and 0.00 for females of genotypes "AA", "Aa", and "aa", respectively, and 0.68, 0.30, and 0.00 for males, respectively. This analysis provided the first conclusive evidence for the existence of a common single gene having a large effect on the occurrence of gallbladder disease. Human cholesterol 7$\alpha$-hydroxylase is the rate-limiting enzyme in bile acid synthesis. The results of an association study in both a random sample and a matched case/control sample showed that there is a significant association between cholesterol 7$\alpha$-hydroxylase gene variation and the occurrence of gallbladder disease in Mexican Americans males but not in females. These data have implicated a specific gene, 7$\alpha$-hydroxylase, in the etiology of gallbladder disease in this population. Finally, I asked whether the inferred major gene from complex segregation analysis is genetically linked to the cholesterol 7$\alpha$-hydroxylase gene. Three pedigrees predicted to be informative for linkage analysis by virtue of supporting the major gene hypothesis and having parents with informative genotypes and multiple offspring were selected for this linkage analysis. In each of these pedigrees, the recombination fractions maximized at 0 with a positive, albeit low, LOD score. The results of this linkage analysis provide preliminary and suggestive evidence that the cholesterol 7$\alpha$-hydroxylase gene and the inferred gallbladder disease susceptibility gene are genetically linked.

Subject Area

Public health|Genetics

Recommended Citation

Lin, Jing-Ping, "Genetic epidemiology of gallbladder disease in Mexican Americans and cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase gene sequence variation" (1993). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9422052.