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Haptoglobin Genotype

hap·​to·​glo·​bin ge·​no·​type

What is haptoglobin?

Haptoglobin (Hp) is a protein involved in recycling essential parts of red blood cells when they die. There are three types of Hp protein and each person produces only one. Your genetics determines which of the three Hp proteins you produce. This is known as your haptoglobin genotype and can be a risk factor for certain diseases.


Why test for haptoglobin genetics?

Your chances of having heart disease or stroke depends, in part, on which Hp genotype you have. This is especially true for those with diabetes, for whom cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death. Those with the Hp2-2 genotype and diabetes have a 500% greater risk of heart attack or stroke than those with the Hp1-1 genotype¹.

This test identifies your Hp genotype. Knowing this helps your healthcare professional choose a treatment to help lower your risk of heart attack or stroke, including vitamin E therapy. Vitamin E therapy decreases the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event among those with the Hp2-2 genotype and diabetes². However, vitamin E therapy may increase the risk of heart disease among those with the Hp2-1 genotype and diabetes³. This is why it’s so important to know your Hp genotype before you choose an appropriate therapy.


When should I test my haptoglobin genotype?

Knowing your haptoglobin genotype can help you and your healthcare professional make treatment choices to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, especially if you have diabetes. As your genetics don’t change over the course of your lifetime, you only need to take this test once.


Given my haptoglobin genotype, how can I reduce my risk of cardiovascular disease?

While you can’t change your Hp genotype, you can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke by adopting a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, not smoking, and consuming a heart-healthy diet. This test is especially important for those with diabetes.

References

  1. Levy AP, Hochberg I, Jablonski K, et al. Haptoglobin phenotype is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease in individuals with diabetes: The Strong Heart Study. J Am Coll Cardiol 2002;40(11):1984–1990.
  2. Asleh R, Briasoulis A, Berinstein EM, et al. Meta-analysis of the association of the haptoglobin genotype with cardiovascular outcomes and the pharmacogenomic interactions with vitamin E supplementation. Pharmgenomics Pers Med 2018;11:71–82.
  3. Farbstein D, Blum S, Pollak M, et al. Vitamin E therapy results in a reduction in HDL function in individuals with diabetes and the haptoglobin 2-1 genotype. Atherosclerosis 2011;219(1):240–244.
Last updated:
September 23, 2021

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