Familial resemblance of plasma lipids, lipoproteins and postheparin lipoprotein and hepatic lipases in the HERITAGE Family study

L. Perusse, T. Rice, J. P. Despres, J. Bergeron, M. A. Province, J. Gagnon, A. S. Leon, D. C. Rao, J. S. Skinner, J. H. Wilmore, C. Bouchard

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The familial aggregation of lipids and lipoproteins and plasma postheparin triglyceride lipases was investigated in 86 Caucasian families participating in the HERITAGE Family study, a study investigating the role of genetic factors in the adaptation to exercise training and its relationships with cardiovascular disease risk factors. Accordingly, sedentary subjects were recruited, tested for a battery of measurements, exercise trained for 20 weeks, and were re-measured. The present report includes plasma levels of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, and postheparin plasma lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and hepatic lipase (HL) activities measured in 437 sedentary individuals (171 parents and 266 adult offspring) before training. Significant familial resemblance was observed for all the age-adjusted phenotypes. The pattern of familial correlations reveals no spouse correlations but significant parent-offspring and sibling correlations for total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol with heritability (h2) estimates of 62%, 83%, and 50%, respectively. For plasma triglyceride concentrations (h2=55%) and HL activity (h2=40%), significant spouse correlations were found in addition to parentoffspring and sibling correlations, suggesting that common familial environment in addition to genetic factors contribute to the familial resemblance. For plasma LPL activity, there was no spouse correlation, but sex differences were found in the familial correlations with higher heritabilities in female pairs (h2=76%) compared to male pairs (h2=30%) and opposite-sex pairs (h2=44%). These results confirm the findings of previous family studies showing that genetic factors are major determinants of the familial resemblance in plasma lipids and lipoproteins and suggest the presence of sex differences in the heritability of LPL activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3263-3269
Number of pages7
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1997


  • Cholesterol
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Lipases
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins


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