A major gene for resting metabolic rate unassociated with body composition: Results from the québec family study

Treva Rice, Angela Tremblay, Olivier Dériaz, Louis Pérusse, D. C. Rao, Claude Bouchard

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15 Scopus citations


A major gene hypothesis for resting metabolic rate (RMR) was investigated using segregation analysis (POINTER) of data on families participating in Phase 2 of the Québec Family Study. Complete analyses were conducted on RMR adjusted for age, and also on RMR adjusted for age and other covariates, primarily fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM). Prior to adjustment for covariates, support for a major gene hypothesis was equivocal - i.e., there was evidence for either a major gene or a multifactorial component (i.e., polygenic and/or familial environment). The multifactorial model was preferred over the major gene model, although the latter did segregate according to Mendelian expectations. However, after the effects of FM and FFM were accounted for, a major gene effect was unambiguous and compelling. The putative locus accounted for 57% of the variance, affected 7% of the sample, and led to high values of RMR. The lack of a significant multifactorial effect suggested that the familial etiology of RMR adjusted for FM and FFM was likely to be entirely a function of the major locus. Comparing the RMR results from pre- and post-adjustment for FM and FFM suggests a plausi-hypothesis. We know from earlier studies in this sample that there is a putative major gene for FM and a major non-Mendelian effect for FFM. The current study leads us to speculate that: (1) the gene(s) affecting body size and body composition also may have an effect on RMR, and further (2) removal of the effect of the major gene(s) for body size and composition allowed for detection of an additional major gene affecting only the RMR. Thus, RMR appears to be an oligogenic trait.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-449
Number of pages9
JournalObesity research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996


  • Fat mass
  • Fat-free mass
  • Heritability
  • Obesity


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