Mevalonate Kinase Deficiency (MKD) is an autosomal-recessively inherited disorder of cholesterol biosynthesis with higher prevalence in the Netherlands and other North European countries. MKD is due to mutations in the second enzyme of mevalonate pathway (mevalonate kinase, MK/MVK) which results in reduced enzymatic activity and in the consequent shortage of downstream compounds. In most severe cases the deregulation of mevalonate pathway is associated with a decrease in serum cholesterol. More than 100 pathological mutations have been described in the MVK gene so far, and a founder effect has been hypothesized as responsible for the diffusion of the most frequent disease-associated mutations. In the acute phase of disease, patients affected with MKD present low cholesterol levels comparable to their basal physiologic conditions, already characterized by lower cholesterol levels when compared to healthy individuals. Low cholesterol levels are widely known to correlate with the reduction of cardiovascular events. We hypothesize a selective advantage for heterozygote carriers of the most frequent MVK mutations in those countries where the diet is characterized by high consumption of saturated animal fats rich in cholesterol. This could explain the maintenance in North European population of the main mutations leading to MKD and the distribution world-wide of these mutations that followed the migrations of North European populations.
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