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Distribution of albumin variants in Indians and non-Indians of Mexico.

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Distribution of Albumin Variants in Indians and
Non-Indians of Mexico
RUBEN LISKER, LESVIA COBO A N D GUILLERMINA MORA
Departamento de Geneticu, Instituto Nacioncil de In Nutricion,
Saiz Fernando SIN, Mexico 22, D.F .
ABSTRACT
The distribution of albumin variants amongst several Mexican
Indian and non-Indian (Mestizo) groups was studied. Of the former, a total of
1606 individuals belonging to 1 1 different tribes were examined with a n overall
frequency of 1 . 5 % of Albumin Mexico fairly uniformly distributed in all four
main linguistic groups. The 2548 Mestizos studied belong in six groups, two
from Mexico City and four from elsewhere i n the country. The first of the Mexico
City groups consisted of 1313 individuals randomly chosen from the outpatient
clinic of the Instituto Nacional de la Nutricion, while the rest included healthy
individuals. The overall frequency was 1.9%, also fairly evenly distributed,
with no difference between the hospital population and the others. No anomalous
albumin, other than Albumin Mexico was encountered i n the whole study. It is
concluded that the similarity between Indians and Mestizos is due to the high
Indian component of the latter and that the presence of albumin Mexico is a
good anthropological marker for this region of the world.
Since Scheurlen's description in 1955
of a patient with two serum albumin
bands demonstrated by paper electrophoresis, many more variants have been
described. With the use of starch gel
electrophoresis at least 12 different types
can be distinguished (Weitkamp et al.,
'67; Weitkamp, Franglen et al, 69; Weitkamp, Basu, Gall and Brown, '69; Arends
et al., '69; Lau et al., '69); the study of
their dye-binding properties can apparently further differentiate samples with
similar or identical electrophoretic mobilities (Tarnoky et al., '70). Their clinical
significance is not clear; some investigators have found high cholesterol levels
associated with albumin variants (Earle
et al., '59; and Tarnoky and Lestas, '64);
others have reported a high frequency of
bone and joint complaints among several
members of a family with a slow moving
variant (Laurel1 and Nilehn, '66); while
Melartin et a1 ('68) could find no clinical or laboratory abnormalities i n North
American Indians homozygous or heterozygous for Albumin Naskapi.
Most of the reported serum albumin
types have been encountered in one or at
best a few isolated families; notable exceptions are the Naskapi and Mexico
variants which are found in appreciable frequencies in different communities
AM. J. PHYS. ANTHROP.. 35: 113-124.
(Melartin and Blumberg, '66; Melartin
et al., '68; Lisker and Zarate, '68). The
Naskapi variant seems to be confined to
Amerindians inhabiting the Northern part
of the American Continent while Albumin
Mexico has been described in Indians
living in Southern United States and i n
Mexico (Melartin et al., '67). In South
America, two variants have been described, Albumin Maku in Brazil (Weitkamp and Chagnon, '68) and Albumin
Warao in Venezuela (Arends et al., '69);
each has been found in only one Indian
tribe and, apparently, with a low frequency.
The main purpose of the present study
is to investigate . t h e distribution of albumin variants i n various Mexican Indian
and Mestizo groups, to further characterize these populations that have been
studied rather extensively i n the past. I n
addition, some information was obtained
to learn whether individuals with albumin
variants are more prevalent in hospital
groups than in the general population.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
A total of 1606 samples of individuals
belonging to 11 Mexican Indian groups
1 This work was supported by grant HD 00862 from
the U.S.P.H.S.
119
120
R. LISKER, L. COB0 AND G. MORA
were obtained (table 1). They include
several representatives of each major linguistic group: the Nahua, Otomi and
Cora belong to the Macro-Nahua; the
Huasteco, Tzeltal-Tzotzil and Chol to the
Macro-Maya; the Zapoteco, Mixteco, Mazateco and Mixe to the Macro-Mixteco, and
the Tarasco to the Tarasco. The habitats
and geographic location of these groups
is varied (fig. 1); some of the Nahua and
the Huasteco inhabit the East Coast while
the rest live in mountaneous areas near
Mexico City or in the state of Oaxaca.
Their population size is extremely varied;
the Nahua number approximately 700,000
individuals, while no more than 3,000
persons form the Cora group. A complete
general description of these tribes has
been made in previous publications (Rodriguez et al., '63; Cordova et al., '67).
With the exception of the Huasteco, all
the populations were studied i n schools
for Indian boys, where they spend three
years learning Spanish and crafts. Most
individuals were not related and often
came from different villages. The Nahua
samples were obtained in four schools,
two located i n the State of Puebla, one i n
Hidalgo and one i n Veracruz; the habitats
are quite different but as no difference i n
the distribution of albumin was encountered the individuals were pooled. The
Huasteco samples were obtained in two
villages located in the States of Veracruz
and Tamaulipas; most individuals were
adults and half of them women, while in
the schools only boys were investigated
and their ages ranged from 10 to 16 years.
Several Mestizo groups were studied.
The largest was formed by 1313 individuals attending the outpatient department of our Institution. They were
sampled without our knowledge of their
diagnosis. Most persons belonged to a low
socio-economic class and both sexes were
fairly equally represented. The second
largest Mestizo group was formed by 661
pregnant females of low-middle socioeconomic class attending a large maternity hospital. The 257 mestizo individuals of
the states of Tlaxcala and Hidalgo were
sampled i n connection with a n investiga-
INDIANS
@
NAHUA
@ OTOMl
@ CORA
@ HUASTECO
0 TZELTAL-TZOTZIL
MESTIZOS
@ MEXICO
@ VERACRUZ
@
@
CAMPECHE
WEST COAST
@ ZAPOTECO
Fig. 1
CITY
@ TLAXCALA-HIDALGO
Geographic location of the Indian a n d Mestizo groups included in this study.
121
ALBUMIN VARIANTS IN MEXICO
tion of the frequency and etiology of
anemia in our rural population; most
individuals were non-related adult male
farmers. The samples of the last three
groups were taken in a project to investigate several genetic hematologic traits in
the Mexican population, and the results,
including the population characteristics,
have been published (Lisker, et al., '65;
Lisker, et al., '69). They are non-related
males of a tri-hybrid group having IndianWhite-Negro intermixture.
From every individual 5 ml of blood was
collected by venous puncture in glass
tubes without anticoagulant. The samples
were kept cold and shipped to Mexico City
where they arrived within 48 hours of
collection. The sera were separated and
kept frozen until time of study. The
majority of the samples were tested within
one month of collection. Those from the
Cora, Chol and Mazateco Indians, and the
West Coast hybrid groups had a storage
period of approximately one year. This is
important as under our storage conditions
albumin denatures after a year and artifacts may appear (Lisker, '70) which prevent accurate determinations.
The screening procedure employed was
a horizontal starch gel electrophoresis system using Ashton and Braden's discontinous buffer at pH 8.6 (Melartin, et al.,
'67). The gels were prepared with hy-
drolyzed starch (Connaught) at a concentration 25% greater than that recommended by the supplier. All abnormal
samples were restudied simultaneously
using three systems: (1) the above described one; (2) another horizontal starch
gel with a buffer recommended by Weitkamp, Franglen et. al., ('69), containing
in the tray 0.03 M tris (hydroxymethil)
aminomethane, 0.0043 M EDTA and 0.27
M boric acid (pH 6.4), and with the gel
buffer of a 1: 6.2 dilution of the above;
and (3) a vertical acrylamide gel with a
tris-glycine buffer pH 9.2. In the latter
the serum was diluted 1:5 while in the
starch gel systems it was used undiluted.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Tables 1 and 2 show the results seen in
the Indian and non-Indian groups, respectively. In both groups the same
anomalous variant, Albumin Mexico, was
the only abnormality present, always in
the heterozygous state, and no differences
between them could be demonstrated in
any of the three electrophoretic systems
employed. We realize that this is not proof
of identity and it might be that more
than one albumin type could be present,
but until proven otherwise, it will be
assumed that all are indeed Albumin
Mexico. Using the nomenclature of Weit-
TABLE I
Distribution of nlbumin variants in 1 1 Mexican Indiun groups
Main linguistic
group
Subgroup
Nahua
Macro-Nahua
*
Location
(State of the
Republic)
No.
studied
440
Puebla, Hidalgo,
Veracruz
Hidalgo
Nayarit
6
1.36
5
2
5.00
2.41
4
0
0
2.13
0.00
0.00
3
1.18
0.00
Otomi
Cora 1
100
Macro-Maya
Huasteco
Tzeltal-Tzotzil
Chol 1
188
144
138
Veracruz, Tamaulipas
Chiapas
Chiapas
Macro-Mixteco
Zapoteco 1
Mixteco
Mazateco 1
Mixe
255
48
22
21
Oaxaca
Oaxaca
Oaxaca
Oaxaca
Tarasco
167
Michoacan
Tarasco
83
Total:
1606
Albumin Phenotype
Mexico Heterozygous
No.
lo
0
0
0
0.00
0.00
5
2.99
25
1.56
These results have been partially reported (Lisker, '70). The Nahua were sampled in four communities and
the Zapoteco i n two.
1
122
ALBUMIN VARIANTS IN MEXICO
TABLE 2
Distribution of a l b u m i n v a r i a n t s i n 2548 M e s t i z o
i n d i v i d u a l s w i t h dgfeerent h a b i t a t s
Location
No.
studied
Albumin Phenotype
Mexico Heterozygous
%
No.
Mexico City
Mexico City
TlaxcalaHidalgo 3
Veracruz 4
Campeche 4
West Coast 4
1313
661
27
8
2.06
1.21
257
109
109
99
12
1
0
1
4.67
0.92
Total:
2548
49
1.92
0.00
1.01
1 Samples obtained a t random i n the outpatient clinic
of our Institution.
2 Normal pregnant females sampled at random in a
large maternity hospital.
3 Adult male farmers. Previously
(Lisker
. reported
.
and Zarate, '68).
4 Adult male tri-hybrid Mestizos with Indian-NegroWhite intermixture. Previously reported (Lisker and
Zarate, '68).
day frequency, and the more general one
of why albumin variants are common in
the American Indian and not in other
populations, are difficult to answer. They
may have enjoyed at some time in history
a selective advantage, but the mechanism
of this is obscure and the physiological
studies comparing the different types of
albumins have so far not been very informative in this respect (Blumberg, '69).
It should be pointed out that the prevalence of Albumin Mexico in the Hospital population investigated (see table 2),
seems to be very similar to that of the
other Mestizo groups examined. The sample size is too small to permit any conclusions, but at least there is no evidence
that the possession of Albumin Mexico
makes an individual more prone to
develop disease. In addition, the distribution of the main diagnosis of the 27
individuals of the Hospital group who had
Albumin Mexico, is grossly what would be
expected in our Institution, there being
no indication that albumin types are unevenly distributed among diseases.
kamp, Franglen et al., ('69), based on the
relative electrophoretic mobility of albumins in four different buffer systems, i t
corresponds to the 3,3,2,3, variety. In this
nomenclature, every number refers to the
relative electrophoretic mobility of the
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
sample in one of the buffer systems. The
slowest moving gets number 1, while
The authors wish to acknowledge the
number 8 is assigned to the fastest.
unlimited
help given by the authorities,
The distribution among the four main
linguistic Indian groups is fairly uniform personnel and pupils of all the schools
and the differences not significant; x 2 for Indian boys studied.
3 d.f. =6.18, ~ 2 0 . 1 0 .The differences
LITERATURE CITED
within the Mestizos are significant; ~2
5 d.f. = 15.64, pSO.01. However, most Arends, T., M. L. Gallango, M. Layrisse, J. Wilbert and H. 0. Heinen 1969 Albumin Warao:
of the 'X value is due to the very high
New type of human alloalbuminemia. Blood,
prevalence found in the Tlaxcala-Hidalgo
33: 414-420.
group, which may be just a sampling Blumberg, B. S. 1969 The epidemiology of alloalbuminemia. Arch. Envir. Health., 1 8 : 1-3.
phenomenon as the number studied is
M. S., R. Lisker and A. Loria 1967
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Studies on several genetic hematological traits
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of the Mexican population. XII. Distribution of
very similar to that in the mestizo ( ~ 2
blood group antigens i n twelve Indian tribes.
Am. J. Phys. Anthrop., 26: 55-65.
1 d.f. = 0.74, p20.30), which is probably
D . P., M. P. Hutt, K. Schmid and D. Gitlin
explained by the fact that the Indian Earle,
1959 Observations on double albumin: a gecomponent in the Mestizo is relatively
netically transmitted serum protein anomaly.
large.
J. Clin. Invest., 38: 1412-1420.
We have no information of the distri- Lau, T., F. W. Sunderman, S. S. Agarwal, A. I.
Sutnick and B. S. Blumberg 1969 Genetics of
bution of Albumin Mexico in Central
albumin Gainesville, a new variant of human
America; however i t seems clear that this
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variant is fairly frequent in Mexico and Laurell, C. B., and J. E. Nilkhn 1966 A new
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pological marker of Amerindian and Lisker,
R., A. Loria and M. S. Cordova 1965
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