Genetic and environmental correlations among skinfold measures

A. G. Comuzzie, J. Blangero, M. C. Mahaney, B. D. Mitchell, M. P. Stern, J. W. MacCluer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Scopus citations


    A bivariate genetic analysis, utilizing variance decomposition techniques based on maximum likelihood methods, was undertaken to examine the genetic and environmental correlations among eight skinfolds in a large pedigreed sample of Mexican Americans from San Antonio, Texas. The resulting correlation coefficients reveal significant values for both the genetic and environmental components among the traits examined. The genetic correlation coefficients showed the highest values between skinfolds from the same region (i.e., triceps, biceps, and forearm), while the environmental correlation remained fairly constant between all traits. These findings are further supported by a principal component analysis of the phenotypic, genetic, and environmental correlation matrices. This represents the first study to partition the phenotypic correlation between these traits into their genetic and environmental components. An examination of the graphical representations of the eigenvectors of these correlation matrices reveals that the patterns of central versus peripheral fat distribution seen in the phenotypic correlation matrix are largely a function of the genetic correlation structure. All these findings are interpreted as evidence of a global pleiotropic effect in the genetic expression of these traits, with what might be secondary regional pleiotropic effects among specific subsets of the skinfolds. In addition it appears that these pleiotropic effects exist against a background of a relatively constant shared environmental effect. It is concluded that these traits are not independent with respect to either shared genetic or environmental influences.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)413-418
    Number of pages6
    JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - 1994


    • Body fat
    • Maximum likelihood
    • Pleiotropy
    • Polygenes
    • Principal components
    • Variance decomposition

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
    • Nutrition and Dietetics


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