An effect of the PAI-1 4G/5G polymorphism on cholesterol levels may explain conflicting associations with myocardial infarction and stroke

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Background and Purpose: The gene-encoding plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) has a common 4G/5G 'functional' polymorphism, and people homozygous for the 4G allele have higher PAI-1 plasma concentrations. The 4G/4G genotype is associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction but paradoxically protects against stroke. We hypothesized that this paradox may be explained via an effect of the PAI-1 polymorphism on plasma lipids. Methods: We studied 71 consecutive Italian patients referred to our Institute for first stroke or vascular cognitive impairment. PAI-1 gene 4G/5G polymorphism, total plasma cholesterol, plasma triglycerides, sex, age, smoking, oral contraceptive use, statin therapy, hypertension, diabetes, and history of myocardial infarction were examined. Results: The 4G/4G genotype was significantly associated with high cholesterol (p = 0.003) but not with triglycerides (p = 0.39). Adjusted odds ratios were: 5.8 for 4G/4G vs. 4G/5G (95% CI, 3.1-23.0), and 15.9 for 4G/4G vs. 5G/5G (95% CI, 2.4-105.0). Conclusions: This finding may explain the involvement of the PAI-1 polymorphism in the clustering of atherothrombotic risk factors, and why people with the 4G/4G genotype are at increased risk for myocardial infarction. Stroke is not so clearly related to hypercholesterolemia and other effects of the 4G/4G genotype (perhaps increased PAI-1 expression) may protect against stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-195
Number of pages5
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006



  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Cholesterol
  • Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 polymorphism
  • Triglycerides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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