Genetic markers for ancestry are correlated with body composition traits in older African Americans

Osteoporos Int. 2007 Jun;18(6):733-41. doi: 10.1007/s00198-006-0316-6. Epub 2007 Jan 18.


Individual-specific percent European ancestry was assessed in 1,277 African Americans. We found significant correlations between proportion of European ancestry and several musculoskeletal traits, indicating that admixture mapping may be a useful strategy for locating genes affecting these traits.

Introduction: Genotype data for admixed populations can be used to detect chromosomal regions influencing disease risk if allele frequencies at disease-related loci differ between parental populations. We assessed evidence for differentially distributed alleles affecting bone and body composition traits in African Americans.

Methods: Bone mineral density (BMD) and body composition data were collected for 1,277 African and 1,790 European Americans (aged 70-79). Maximum likelihood methods were used to estimate individual-specific percent European ancestry for African Americans genotyped at 37 ancestry-informative genetic markers. Partial correlations between body composition traits and percent European ancestry were calculated while simultaneously adjusting for the effects of covariates.

Results: Percent European ancestry (median = 18.7%) in African Americans was correlated with femoral neck BMD in women (r = -0.18, p < 10(-5)) and trabecular spine BMD in both sexes (r = -0.18, p < 10(-5)) independently of body size, fat, lean mass, and other covariates. Significant associations of European ancestry with appendicular lean mass (r = -0.19, p < 10(-10)), total lean mass (r = -0.12, p < 10(-4)), and total body fat (r = 0.09, p < 0.002) were also observed for both sexes.

Conclusions: These results indicate that some population differences in body composition may be due to population-specific allele frequencies, suggesting the utility of admixture mapping for identifying susceptibility genes for osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Black or African American / genetics*
  • Body Composition / genetics*
  • Bone Density / genetics*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Femur Neck / physiology
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Markers*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Male
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable


  • Genetic Markers