Genetic and environmental correlations among serum lipids and apolipoproteins in elderly twins reared together and apart

Debra A. Heller, Nancy L. Pedersen, Ulf De Faire, Gerald E. McClearn

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37 Scopus citations


Genetic and environmental correlations among five serum-lipid measures were examined in the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging. The sample included 302 twin pairs; 146 of these twin pairs were separated at an early age and were reared apart. The lipid measures examined include total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and apolipoproteins A-I and B. Genetic and environmental correlations were evaluated for two different age groups, formed by dividing the sample at the median. The younger group included individuals 41.8-65.4 years of age at the midpoint of testing, although only 24 individuals were <50 years of age. The older group included all those >65.4 years of age, up to age 87 years of age. Substantial genetic correlations were found within each age group, although there is no evidence for a single genetic factor common to all five lipids. The comparison of twins reared together with twins reared apart allowed estimation of the effects of shared rearing environment; however, shared rearing environment only appears to be a significant mediator of the phenotypic correlation between apolipoprotein B and cholesterol in the older group. Examination of the genetic and environmental covariances suggests that the relative contributions of genetic factors are lower in the older group. Nonshared environmental factors are relatively more important mediators of phenotypic correlations among the serum lipids in individuals >65.4 years of age than they are for the younger group. Sex differences in the mediation of these serum lipids were not as clear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1255-1267
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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