Genotype-by-sex and environment-by-sex interactions influence variation in serum levels of bone-specific alkaline phosphatase in adult baboons (Papio hamadryas)

L. M. Havill, M. C. Mahaney, J. Rogers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Scopus citations


    While more than 77% of the people in the US with osteoporosis are women, the contributions of genotype-by-sex (G×S) and environment-by-sex interactions to sex differences in osteoporosis risk factors have not been studied. To address this issue, we conducted a statistical genetic analysis of serum concentrations of bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (Bone ALP), a highly specific marker of osteoblast function that is elevated in persons with conditions like osteoporosis characterized by excessive bone turnover or rapid bone loss. We assayed Bone ALP from 657 pedigreed baboons using a commercially available ELISA kit. Using a maximum likelihood variance decomposition approach, we treated sex as an environmental milieu in which genes influencing Bone ALP levels are expressed. We modeled the genetic covariance in Bone ALP between all relative pairs conditional on their sex so that the covariance is the product of the kinship, the genetic correlation between trait levels in the two sexes, and the genetic variances in the two sexes. Sex-specific maximum likelihood estimates (MLE) of residual heritability for Bone ALP were greater for females than for males (h2 = 0.44 vs. h2 = 0.26, respectively), but likelihood ratio tests revealed only a marginally significant difference in sex-specific genetic variances (P = 0.057). In contrast, the between-sex genetic correlation (ρG = 0.43) was significantly less than 1.0 (P = 0.037), and the difference in sex-specific environmental variances was highly significant (P = 0.00006). We report the first evidence for G×S interactions influencing variation in an osteoporosis risk factor. The diminished between-sex genetic correlation implies that different genes influence Bone ALP levels in the two sexes. The significant differences between environmental variances suggest that unmeasured factors, including those from the internal, biological environments of the two sexes, account for a greater proportion of the Bone ALP variation in males.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)198-203
    Number of pages6
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jul 2004


    • Animal models
    • Baboon
    • Bone ALP
    • Gender differences
    • Osteoporosis
    • Skeletal genetics
    • Variance components

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
    • Physiology
    • Histology


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