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It is crucial to understand the genetic mechanisms and biological pathways underlying the relationship between obesity and serum lipid levels. Structural equation models (SEMs) were constructed to calculate heritability for body mass index (BMI), total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and the genetic connections between BMI and the four classes of lipids using 1197 pairs of twins from the Chinese National Twin Registry (CNTR). Bivariate genomewide association studies (GWAS) were performed to identify genetic variants associated with BMI and lipids using the records of 457 individuals, and the results were further validated in 289 individuals. The genetic background affecting BMI may differ by gender, and the heritability of males and females was 71% (95% CI [.66, .75]) and 39% (95% CI [.15, .71]) respectively. BMI was positively correlated with TC, TG and LDL-C in phenotypic and genetic correlation, while negatively correlated with HDL-C. There were gender differences in the correlation between BMI and lipids. Bivariate GWAS analysis and validation stage found 7 genes (LOC105378740, LINC02506, CSMD1, MELK, FAM81A, ERAL1 and MIR144) that were possibly related to BMI and lipid levels. The significant biological pathways were the regulation of cholesterol reverse transport and the regulation of high-density lipoprotein particle clearance (p < .001). BMI and blood lipid levels were affected by genetic factors, and they were genetically correlated. There might be gender differences in their genetic correlation. Bivariate GWAS analysis found MIR144 gene and its related biological pathways may influence obesity and lipid levels.
The objective of this study was to investigate how different obesity measures link to circulating metabolites, and whether the connections are due to genetic or environmental factors. A cross-sectional analysis was performed on follow-up survey data at the Chinese National Twin Registry (CNTR), which was conducted in four areas of China (Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Sichuan) in 2013. The survey collected detailed questionnaire information and conducted physical examinations, fasting blood sampling and untargeted metabolomic measurements among 439 adult twins. Linear regression models and bioinformatics analysis were used to examine the relation of obesity measures, including body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) with serum metabolite levels and related pathways. A co-twin control study was additionally conducted among 15 obesity-discordant monozygotic (MZ) pairs (intrapair BMI difference >3 kg/m2) to examine any differences in metabolites controlling for genetic factors. Eleven metabolites were associated with BMI, WC and WHR after controlling for genetic and shared environmental factors. Pathway analysis identified pathways such as phenylalanine metabolism, purine metabolism, valine, leucine and isoleucine biosynthesis that were associated with obesity. A wide range of unfavorable alterations in the serum metabolome was associated with obesity. Obesity-discordant twin analysis suggests that these associations are independent of genetic liability.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is growing rapidly in many countries. Socioeconomic inequalities might be important for this increase. The aim of this study was to determine associations of body mass index (BMI), overweight and obesity with educational level and marital status in Chinese twins. Participants were adult twins recruited through the Chinese National Twin Registry (CNTR), aged 18 to 79 years, and the sample comprised 10,448 same-sex twin pairs. Current height, weight, educational attainment, and marital status were self-reported. Regression analyses and structural equation models were conducted to evaluate BMI, overweight, and obesity associated with educational level and marital status in both sexes. At an individual level, both educational level and marital status were associated with higher BMI and higher risk of being overweight and obesity in men, while in women the effects of educational level on BMI were in the opposite direction. In within-Monozygotic (MZ) twin-pair analyses, the effects of educational level on BMI disappeared in females. Bivariate structural equation models showed that genetic factors and shared environmental confounded the relationship between education and BMI in females, whereas marital status was associated with BMI on account of significant positive unique environmental correlation apart in both sexes. The present data suggested that marital status and BMI were associated, independent of familiar factors, for both sexes of this study population, while common genetic and shared environmental factors contributed to education-associated disparities in BMI in females.
Obesity is associated with blood pressure (BP), but the associations between different obesity indicators and BP have not reached agreement. Besides, both obesity and BP are influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Whether they share the same genetic or environmental etiology has not been fully understood. We therefore analyzed the relationship between different obesity indicators and BP components as well as the genetic and environmental contributions to these relationships in a Chinese adult twin sample. Twins aged 18–79 years (n = 941) were included in this study. Body mass index (BMI) was used as the index of general obesity, whereas waist circumference (WC), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) were used as the indicators of central obesity. BP components included systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Linear regression models and bivariate structural equation models were used to examine the relation of various obesity indicators with BP components, and genetic or environmental influences on these associations, respectively. A strong association of BP components with BMI—and a somewhat weaker association with WC, WHtR, and WHR—was found in both sexes, independent of familial factors. Of these phenotypic correlations between obesity indicators and BP components, 60–76% were attributed to genetic factors, whereas 24–40% were attributed to unique environmental factors. General obesity was most strongly associated with high BP in Chinese adult twins. There were common genetic backgrounds for obesity and BP, and unique environmental factors also played a role.
This study examined the genetic and environmental effects on variances in weight, height, and body mass index (BMI) under 18 years in a population-based sample from China. We selected 6,644 monozygotic and 5,969 dizygotic twin pairs from the Chinese National Twin Registry (CNTR) aged under 18 years (n = 12,613). Classic twin analyses with sex limitation were used to estimate the genetic and environmental components of weight, height, and BMI in six age groups. Sex-limitation of genetic and shared environmental effects was observed, especially when puberty begins. Heritability for weight, height, and BMI was low at 0–2 years old (less than 20% for both sexes) but increased over time, accounting for half or more of the variance in the 15–17 year age group for boys. For girls, heritabilities for weight, height and BMI was maintained at approximately 30% after puberty. Common environmental effects on all body measures were high for girls (59–87%) and presented a small peak during puberty. Genetics appear to play an increasingly important role in explaining the variation in weight, height, and BMI from early childhood to late adolescence, particularly in boys. Common environmental factors exert their strongest and most independent influence specifically in the pre-adolescent period and more significantly in girls. These findings emphasize the need to target family and social environmental interventions in early childhood years, especially for females. Further studies about puberty-related genes and social environment are needed to clarify the mechanism of sex differences.
Twins reared apart provide a fascinating experiment to distinguish genetic from environmental influences. However, there is as yet no broad report on distribution of twins reared apart, especially in the Chinese population. In this study, information on 18,295 volunteer twin pairs of all age groups was compiled in nine provinces or cities of China, and questionnaires were used for zygosity determination. It was discovered that twins reared apart from 0 to 10 years of age accounted for 2.2% of all twin interviewees, with the proportion of this 0–10 group separated before 1, 2, and 5 years old, accounting for 65.3%, 76.1%, and 91.3%, respectively. The proportion of twins reared apart is not significantly related to zygosity or gender, but it is related to region and twin age. As the age of twins lowers, the proportion of those reared apart gradually decreases. Twins reared apart will become rarer in the future and therefore should be cherished as a resource.
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