In a survey of serum pseudocholinesterase levels and variants in the peoples of Papua-New Guinea (2144 individuals studied) it was found that the frequency for the atypical cholinesterase gene as determined by dibucaine inhibition ranged from 0.004–0.015. No homozygotes for the atypical cholinesterase were found. No individuals were found with extremely low or zero enzyme levels.
Considerable variation was observed in serum pseudocholinesterase level between the sexes and the various age groups in the populations studied, although variation between the highland and coastal regions was less than the variation within the regions.
In groups where poor nutrition and malaria might be expected to cause liver damage the levels were lower than in well-fed malaria-free controls, although previous studies had not shown a significant difference between the γ-globulin level of the two groups.
It was concluded that these results added weight to the view that high γ-globulin levels in New Guinea were primarily a result of infection and not of liver damage.
Baker Medical Research Institute, Commercial Road, Prahran S.I., Victoria, Australia.
National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness, National Institutes of Health, U.S.A.
A. A. Thomas Research Fellow, Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria.
Department of Pathology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, U.S.A.
General Hospital, Public Health Department, Port Moresby, Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Leprosy Control Unit, Public Health Department, Mt. Hagen, Territory of Papua and New Guinea.