Genetic pleiotropy for resting metabolic rate with fat-free mass and fat mass: The Québec family study

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Shared genetic and familial environmental causes for the associations among resting metabolic rate (RMR), fat-free mass (FFM), and fat mass (FM) were investigated in families participating in phase 2 of the Québec Family Study. A multivariate familial correlation model assessing the pattern of significant cross-trait correlations between family members (e.g., RMR in parents with FFM in offspring) was used to infer the etiology of the associations. For each of FM and FFM with RMR, significant sibling, parent-offspring, and intraindividual cross-trait correlations suggest the associations are familial. Furthermore, the lack of significant spouse cross-trait correlations suggests that the familial aggregation is primarily genetic. Bivaria te heritability estimates suggest that as much as 45% to 50% of the shared variance between FFM and RMR may be genetic, and as much as 28% to 34% for FM and RMR. This study supports the notion that the gene(s) affecting each of FFM and FM also influence the RMR. Moreover, the lack of any familial associations between FFM and FM suggests that the effects of each body size component on RMR are independent, i.e., more than one genetic source on the RMR-body size association. The possibility that RMR is an oligogenic trait (i.e., more than one underlying genetic etiology) should be further investigated using more complex multivariate segregation methods until specific genes can be tested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-131
Number of pages7
JournalObesity research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Bivariate heritability
  • Cross-trait familial correlations
  • Oligogenic
  • Pleiotropy


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