Quantitative genetic analysis of susceptibility to hookworm infection in a population from rural Zimbabwe

S. Williams-Blangero, J. Blangero, M. Bradley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Scopus citations


    Overdispersion is a common feature of population distribution patterns for hookworm infection in humans. Genetic factors may be partially responsible for this observed increased susceptibility in a fraction of the exposed population. However, the hypothesis that there are genetic components to susceptibility to this infections disease has not been tested explicitly. The purpose of this study is to quantify the influence of genetic factors on patterns of hookworm infection in a rural population in Zimbabwe. A quantitative measure of hookworm load, number of hookworm eggs per gram of feces, as determined by the Kato thick smear technique, was available for 289 individuals. Of these, 279 individual were members of 62 nuclear families and 10 were independent individuals. We analyzed the hookworm data in combination with the pedigree structure of the sampled individuals using quantitatve genetic analysis techniques. Using this variance decomposition approach, we estimated the heritability of hookworm load to be 0.37 ± 0.09 (p < 0.0001). This significant heritability indicates that 37% of the variation (after correcting for the effects of covariates) in hookworm eggs per gram observed in this population is attributable to genetic factors. The results suggest that further investigation and characterization of the genetic components influencing susceptibility to hookworm infection are warranted.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)201-208
    Number of pages8
    JournalHuman Biology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 1997


    • AFRICA

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Genetics
    • Genetics(clinical)


    Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative genetic analysis of susceptibility to hookworm infection in a population from rural Zimbabwe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this