Moderate-to-high levels of physical activity are established as preventive factors in metabolic syndrome development. However, there is variability in the phenotypic expression of metabolic syndrome under distinct physical activity conditions. In the present study we applied a Genotype X Environment interaction method to examine the presence of GxEE interaction in the phenotypic expression of metabolic syndrome. A total of 958 subjects, from 294 families of The Portuguese Healthy Family study , were included in the analysis. Total daily energy expenditure was assessed using a 3 day physical activity diary. Six metabolic syndrome related traits, including waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, glucose, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides, were measured and adjusted for age and sex. GxEE examination was performed on SOLAR 4.3.1. All metabolic syndrome indicators were significantly heritable. The GxEE interaction model fitted the data better than the polygenic model (p<0.001) for waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides. For waist circumference, glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides, the significant GxEE interaction was due to rejection of the variance homogeneity hypothesis. For waist circumference and glucose, GxEE was also significant by the rejection of the genetic correlation hypothesis. The results showed that metabolic syndrome traits expression is significantly influenced by the interaction established between total daily energy expenditure and genotypes. Physical activity may be considered an environmental variable that promotes metabolic differences between individuals that are distinctively active.
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