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Genetic and environmental influences on factors associated with cardiovascular disease and the metabolic syndrome

Elder SJ, Lichtenstein AH, Pittas AG, Roberts SB, Fuss PJ, Greenberg AS, McCrory MA, Bouchard TJ Jr, Saltzman E, Neale MC.
J Lipid Res 2009;50:1917-26

The relative influence of genetics and the environment on factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome (MetS) remains unclear. We performed model-fitting analyses to quantify genetic, common environmental, and unique environmental variance components of factors associated with CVD and MetS [waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose and insulin, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and fasting plasma lipids] in adult male and female monozygotic twins reared apart or together. We also investigated whether MetS components share common influences. Plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were highly heritable (56-77%, statistically significant). Waist circumference, plasma glucose and insulin, HOMA-IR, and blood pressure were moderately heritable (43-57%, statistically significant). Unique environmental factors contributed to the variance of all variables (20-38%, perforce statistically significant). Common environmental factors contributed 23, 30, and 42% (statistically significant) of the variance of waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, and plasma glucose, respectively. Two shared factors influenced MetS components; one influenced all components except HDL cholesterol, another influenced only lipid (triglyceride and HDL cholesterol) concentrations. These results suggest that genetic variance has a dominant influence on total variance of factors associated with CVD and MetS and support the proposal of one or more underlying pathologies of MetS.


J Lipid Res 2009;50:1917-26


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