The heterozygote advantage of the Chuvash polycythemia VHLR200W mutation may be protection against anemia.

Chuvash Republic Clinical Hospital No. 1, Cheboksary, Russia.
Haematologica (Impact Factor: 5.94). 05/2011; 96(9):1371-4. DOI: 10.3324/haematol.2011.045609
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The germ-line loss-of-function VHL(R200W) mutation is common in Chuvashia, Russia and occurs in other parts of the world. VHL(R200W) homozygotes have elevated hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1 and HIF-2 levels, increased hemoglobin concentration, propensity to thrombosis and early mortality. Because the mutation persists from an ancient origin, we hypothesized that there is a heterozygote advantage. Thirty-four VHL(R200W) heterozygotes and 44 controls over 35 years of age from Chuvashia, Russia were studied. Anemia was defined as hemoglobin less than 130 g/L in men and less than 120 g/L in women. Mild anemia was present in 15% of VHL(R200W) heterozygotes and 34% of controls without a mutated VHL allele. By multivariate logistic regression, the odds of anemia were reduced an estimated 5.6-fold in the VHL(R200W) heterozygotes compared to controls (95% confidence interval 1.4-22.7; P=0.017). In conclusion, heterozygosity for VHL(R200W) may provide protection from anemia; such protection could explain the persistence of this mutation.

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