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The physiological role of human paraoxonase (PON), a serum enzyme that hydrolyzes organophosphate insecticides and nerve agents, is not clear. Of the three genes in the paraoxonase gene family, PON1 shows a polymorphism, Gln 192→Arg, governed by two common alleles named *Q and *R. These determine two different isoforms associated, respectively, with lower and higher activity towards paraoxon, a toxic metabolic product of the insecticide parathion. The *R allele has often been found associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. As human populations tend towards greater exposure to environmental changes, including changes in dietary habits and contact with insecticides or other toxic substances, health risks will change as well. In studying the prevention of these newly emerging risks, it could be important to know the distribution of the two alleles in the various world populations. In this paper we report on the genotype and allele frequencies of this polymorphism in different populations, most of which have never been examined for this polymorphism. Samples were taken from mainland Italy, Sardinia, Ethiopia, Benin, and Ecuador. The *R allele frequencies for the samples were: 0.313, 0.248, 0.408, 0.612, and 0.789, respectively. The data show a large variability in allele frequencies, and, in particular, that PON1 allele distribution depends on membership to different geographic populations.