Aims/hypothesis: Growing evidence suggests that the traits comprising the metabolic syndrome have a genetic basis. However, studies of genetic contributions to the syndrome are sparse. Against this background, we sought to estimate the heritability of the metabolic syndrome and its component traits.
Materials and methods: We investigated 803 subjects from 89 Caribbean-Hispanic families who have enrolled to date in the current Northern Manhattan Family Study and for whom metabolic syndrome information was available. Metabolic syndrome was defined in accordance with the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP/ATPIII) criteria. Variance component methods were used to estimate age and sex-adjusted heritability of the metabolic syndrome and its components. To obtain the structures underlying the metabolic syndrome, we performed principal component factor analyses using six quantitative phenotypes included in the ATPIII definition.
Results: The heritability for the metabolic syndrome was 24% (p=0.009), and ranged from 16 to 60% for its five components. Factor analysis yielded two independent factors (factor 1: lipids/glucose/obesity; factor 2: blood pressure). Heritability analysis revealed significant genetic effects on both factors (44% for lipids/glucose/obesity, and 20% for blood pressure).
Conclusions/interpretation: In the Caribbean-Hispanic families investigated, we demonstrated moderate and significant heritabilities for the metabolic syndrome itself, as well as for individual components and independent factors of the syndrome. These results provide evidence that could support future tasks of mapping susceptibility loci for this syndrome.