Atypical Cholinesterase Gene E1a: Rarity in Negroes and Most Orientals

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Science  12 Jan 1968:
Vol. 159, Issue 3811, pp. 202-203
DOI: 10.1126/science.159.3811.202


Development of a rapid screening test for atypical cholinesterase in serum enabled large-scale surveys of populations. The frequency of the heterozygous trait among Greeks, Yugoslavs, and East Indians was similar to that among United States Caucasians (2.8 to 3.3 percent). In trait frequency, U.S. Negroes were intermediate (1.05 percent) between Congolese Africans (0.29 percent) and U.S. Whites (3.3 percent). The gene was absent from or very rare in populations originating in East Asia (Taiwanese, Japanese, Filipinos, and Eskimos). Prolonged apnea during anesthesia from administration of succinylcholine caused by homozygosity for this gene, is expected to be extremely rare among populations of Negroes and East Asians.