Rationale: Obesity, blood pressure and arterial stiffness are heritable traits interconnected to each other but their possible common genetic and environmental etiologies are unknown.
Methods: We studied 228 monozygotic and 150 dizygotic twin pairs aged 18-82 years from Italy, Hungary and the United States, of which 45 monozygotic and 38 dizygotic pairs were discordant for body mass index (BMI; intrapair difference (Δ) in BMI ≥ 3 kg/m(2)). Blood pressure components and arterial stiffness were measured by TensioMed Arteriograph.
Results: Hypertension was more prevalent among obese than non-obese individuals (55% vs. 29%, p < 0.001). Age-, sex- and country-adjusted heritability estimates were high for hemodynamic measures (45%-58%) and BMI (78%). According to bivariate Cholesky decomposition, phenotypic correlations between BMI and blood pressure components (r = -0.15 to 0.24, p < 0.05) were largely explained by additive genetic factors (65%-77%) with the remaining explained by the unique environment. When controlling for genetic factors within all monozygotic pairs, ΔBMI was significantly correlated with Δbrachial systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), Δmean arterial pressure, and Δaortic SBP (r = 0.15-0.17, p < 0.05). For the same measures, heavier co-twins of BMI-discordant monozygotic pairs had significantly higher values than their leaner counterparts (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Blood pressure components are moderately correlated with BMI, largely because of shared genetic factors. However, for the association of BMI with brachial SBP and DBP, aortic SBP and mean arterial pressure, acquired, modifiable factors were also found to be important.
Keywords: Augmentation index; Central blood pressure; Hypertension; Obesity; Pulse wave velocity; Twin study.
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