Journal Article

Relative Contributions of Genes, Environment, and Interactions to Blood Lipid Concentrations in a General Adult Population

Michael C. Costanza, Eftihia Cayanis, Barbara M. Ross, Maria Sol Flaherty, Gabriela B. Alvin, Kamna Das and Alfredo Morabia

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 161, issue 8, pages 714-724
Published in print April 2005 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online April 2005 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Relative Contributions of Genes, Environment, and Interactions to Blood Lipid Concentrations in a General Adult Population

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The authors evaluated the contributions of nine genetic (G) variants (selected from 275 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 11 reverse cholesterol transport pathway genes), five environmental (E) factors (selected from 10), and G × G, E × E, and G × E interactions in explaining population variance of blood lipid concentrations. Total cholesterol, triglycerides, and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were measured, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and HDL cholesterol/LDL cholesterol ratio were calculated in a population-based random sample of 1,543 men and women in Geneva, Switzerland, aged 35–74 years in 1999–2001. Explained variances (R2) for HDL cholesterol/LDL cholesterol ratio, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol, respectively, were 34%, 33%, and 19%, decomposed into main effects of G (6%, 4%, and 5%) and E (25%, 28%, and 11%), with just 3%, 2%, and 3% due to G × G, E × E, and G × E interactions, respectively. Risk factor clustering was only moderate: 70% of study subjects had ≤3 variants, 75% had ≤2 environmental exposures, and 69% had ≤5 of both types of factors. Multiple genes with weak associations, together with more dominating environmental factors, are involved in determining blood lipid concentrations. Interactions added little explained variance. Increasing trends in hypercholesterolemia are attributable to environmental changes affecting populations as a whole. Reducing obesity and smoking and moderating alcohol intake in entire populations should remain the primary strategies for lipid control.

Keywords: body mass index; environment; genes; genetics; hypercholesterolemia; lipids; metabolism; risk factors; BMI, body mass index; E, environment or environmental; G, gene or genetic; HDL, high density lipoprotein; LDL, low density lipoprotein; SNP, single nucleotide polymorphism; T, tertile

Journal Article.  6195 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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