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Heritabilities of Apolipoprotein and Lipid Levels in Three Countries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2012

Marian Beekman
Affiliation:
Molecular Epidemiology Section, Department of Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics, Leiden University Center, Leiden,The Netherlands; Department of Human and Clinical Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands. M.Beekman@LUMC.nl
Bastiaan T. Heijmans
Affiliation:
Molecular Epidemiology Section, Department of Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics, Leiden University Center, Leiden,The Netherlands.
Nicholas G. Martin
Affiliation:
Queensland Institute for Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.
Nancy L. Pedersen
Affiliation:
Department of Medical Epidemiology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
John B. Whitfield
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia.
Ulf DeFaire
Affiliation:
Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
G. Caroline M. van Baal
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Harold Snieder
Affiliation:
Georgia Prevention Institute, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, USA; Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology Unit, St.Thomas' Hospital, London, UK.
George P. Vogler
Affiliation:
Department of Biobehavioral Health, Center for Developmental and Health Genetics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA.
P. Eline Slagboom
Affiliation:
Molecular Epidemiology Section, Department of Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics, Leiden University Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Dorret I. Boomsma
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This study investigated the influence of genes and environment on the variation of apolipoprotein and lipid levels, which are important intermediate phenotypes in the pathways toward cardiovascular disease. Heritability estimates are presented, including those for apolipoprotein E and AII levels which have rarely been reported before. We studied twin samples from the Netherlands (two cohorts; n = 160 pairs, aged 13–22 and n = 204 pairs, aged 34–62), Australia (n = 1362 pairs, aged 28–92) and Sweden (n = 302 pairs, aged 42–88). The variation of apolipoprotein and lipid levels depended largely on the influences of additive genetic factors in each twin sample. There was no significant evidence for the influence of common environment. No sex differences in heritability estimates for any phenotype in any of the samples were observed. Heritabilities ranged from 0.48–0.87, with most heritabilities exceeding 0.60. The heritability estimates in the Dutch samples were significantly higher than in the Australian sample. The heritabilities for the Swedish were intermediate to the Dutch and the Australian samples and not significantly different from the heritabilities in these other two samples. Although sample specific effects are present, we have shown that genes play a major role in determining the variance of apolipoprotein and lipid levels in four independent twin samples from three different countries.

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