Genetic and environmental correlations between bone phenotypes and anthropometric indices in Chinese

Osteoporos Int. 2005 Sep;16(9):1134-40. doi: 10.1007/s00198-004-1825-9. Epub 2005 Feb 12.


Height, weight, bone mineral density (BMD), and bone size are all influenced by genetic and environmental factors as well as interactions between them. Height and weight are often used in population studies to adjust the bone phenotypes. However, it is still unknown what proportion of genetic and environmental variability is shared between these anthropometric characteristics and the bone phenotypes. The genetic and environmental correlations between the bone phenotypes and anthropometric indices in Chinese subjects were studied by bivariate quantitative genetic analysis on a sample of 931 healthy subjects from 292 Chinese nuclear families aged from 19 to 79 years. BMD and bone size at the lumbar spine (L1-L4) and the hip of all subjects were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. We found significant genetic correlations between weight and spine BMD, hip BMD, spine bone size and hip bone size, which were 0.50 (P<0.01), 0.45 (P<0.01), 0.36 (P=0.02), and 0.38 (P<0.01), respectively. Likewise, significant genetic correlations between height and spine BMD, spine bone size, and hip bone size were 0.30 (P=0.02), 0.54 (P<0.01), and 0.58 (P<0.01), respectively. The environmental correlations were found to be significant only between height and spine bone size (P<0.001) and weight and hip BMD (P=0.02). These results suggest the probability that the same genetic and environmental factors contribute to these different phenotypes. Moreover, when a candidate gene or genomic region is responsible for the variation of both bone phenotypes and anthropometric indices, its true genetic effect on the bone phenotypes may be lost after one has adjusted the phenotypic values with weight and height as random environmental factors. It may have implications for population studies of candidate genes that underlie the complex bone phenotypes and for the development of strategies for therapeutic application.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Asian People / genetics*
  • Body Height / genetics
  • Body Weight / genetics
  • Bone Density / genetics*
  • China
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype