Clinical phenotype in relation to the distance-to-index-patient in familial hypercholesterolemia

Joost Besseling, Roeland Huijgen, Seth S. Martin, Barbara A. Hutten, John J.P. Kastelein, G. Kees Hovingh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background and aim: We evaluated whether the severity of the familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) phenotype, i.e. increased levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, decreases in more distantly related patients within one family. Methods: We included heterozygous FH patients identified by genetic cascade screening in the Netherlands from 1994 to 2014. A cascade starts with identification of a genetically proven FH patient ("index patient") followed by testing in first degree relatives. If a mutation carrier is identified, their first degree relatives are tested as well, and so on. The associations between distance-to-index (expressed as family relationship) and both LDL-C levels and CVD risk, were evaluated using multivariable linear and Cox regression models. Results: Distance-to-index could be determined in 13,374 patients. Mean (±standard error) levels of LDL-C did not differ significantly in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th or more family members: 5.46 (1.42), 5.17 (1.42), 4.89 (1.37), and 4.58 (1.27) mmol/L, respectively (adjusted p-for-trend: 0.104). The adjusted hazard ratio of increasing distance-to-index for CVD was 0.92 (95% CI: 0.82-1.03). Conclusion: This study was the first to investigate the association between distance-to-index and the phenotype of a monogenetic disorder. The absence of a decrease of phenotype severity lends support for genetic cascade testing in FH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Distance-to-index
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia
  • Genotype-phenotype relation
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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