Increasingly, baseline peripheral blood cell counts are implicated as risk factors for common complex diseases. While genetic influences on these hematologic parameters are firmly established, the genetic architecture of the blood counts is still poorly understood. In this article we used data from 582 healthy pedigreed baboons and variance components methods to localize quantitative trait loci (QTLs) influencing complete blood count variables. Besides performing genome-wide linkage scans for each trait individually, we conducted bivariate linkage analyses for all pairwise trait combinations to also identify pleiotropic QTLs influencing several blood counts. While significant and suggestive QTLs were localized throughout the genome (LOD range: 1.5-3.5), chromosomal regions associated with the expression of various hematologic parameters stand out. In particular, our results provide significant and consistent evidence for a QTL on the orthologous human chromosome 1p that is shared by several blood counts, mainly erythrocyte parameters. In addition, multiple suggestive evidence of linkage was detected on the orthologous human chromosomes 10 (near the q-terminus) and 19 (centromeric section). Future studies should help identify the genes responsible for these QTL and elucidate their role on baseline variation in hematologic indicators of health and disease.
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