Comparative Study
Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Twin Study
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Effect of genetic and environmental influences on cardiometabolic risk factors: a twin study.

BACKGROUND: Both genetic and environmental factors play a role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The magnitude of genetic and environmental influences may vary in different populations and can be investigated by twin studies.

METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, 101 (63 monozygotic and 38 dizygotic) adult twin pairs (n = 202; mean age: 44.3 ± 15.8 years) were investigated. Past medical history was recorded and physical examination was performed. Fasting venous blood samples were taken for measuring laboratory parameters. For assessing heritability of 14 cardiovascular risk factors, the structural equation (A-C-E) model was used.

RESULTS: The following risk factors were highly (> 70.0%) or moderately (50.0 - 69.0%) heritable: weight (88.1%), waist circumference (71.0%), systolic blood pressure (57.1%), diastolic blood pressure (57.7%), serum creatinine (64.1%), fibrinogen (59.9%), and serum C-reactive protein (51.9%). On the other hand, shared and unique environmental influences had the highest proportion of total phenotypic variance in serum total cholesterol (46.8% and 53.2%), serum HDL-cholesterol (58.1% and 14.9%), triglycerides (0.0% and 55.9%), fasting blood glucose (57.1% and 42.9%), fasting insulin (45.4% and 54.5%), serum uric acid (46.0% and 31.3%), and serum homocysteine (71.8% and 28.2%, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Some cardiometabolic risk factors have strong heritability while others are substantially influenced by environmental factors. Understanding the special heritability characteristics of a particular risk factor can substantiate further investigations, especially in molecular genetics. Moreover, identifying genetic and environmental contribution to certain cardiometabolic risk factors can help in designing prevention and treatment strategies in the population investigated.

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