Genetic dominance influences blood biomarker levels in a sample of 12,000 Swedish elderly twins

Twin Res Hum Genet. 2009 Jun;12(3):286-94. doi: 10.1375/twin.12.3.286.


In twin studies of cardiovascular disease biomarkers the dizygotic correlations are often estimated to be less than half of monozygotic correlations indicating a potential influence of nonadditive genetic factors. Using a large and homogenous sample, we estimated the additive and dominance genetic influences on levels of high density lipoprotein, low density lipoprotein, apolipoprotein A-I, apolipoprotein B, total cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, hemoglobin Alc and c-reactive protein, all of which are biomarkers associated with cardiovascular disease. The blood biomarkers were measured on 12,000 Swedish twins born between 1911 and 1958. The large sample allowed us to obtain heritability estimates with considerable precision and provided adequate statistical power for estimation of dominance genetic components. Our study showed complete absence of the shared environment component for the investigated traits. Dominant genetic component was shown to be significant for low density lipoprotein (0.18), glucose (0.31), Hemoglobin Alc (0.55), and c-reactive protein (0.27). To our knowledge, this is the first statistically significant evidence for dominance genetic variance found for low density lipoprotein, glucose, hemoglobin Alc, and c-reactive protein in a population based twin sample. The study highlights the importance of acknowledging nonadditive genes underlying the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / genetics
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • C-Reactive Protein / genetics
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / genetics
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, Dominant*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / genetics
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Sweden
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Triglycerides / genetics
  • Twins, Dizygotic / blood
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Monozygotic / blood
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Triglycerides
  • C-Reactive Protein