Sex-specific genetic effects in physical activity: Results from a quantitative genetic analysis

Vincent P. Diego, Raquel Nichele de Chaves, John Blangero, Michele Caroline de Souza, Daniel Santos, Thayse Natacha Gomes, Fernanda Karina dos Santos, Rui Garganta, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, José A.R. Maia

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    8 Scopus citations


    Background: The objective of this study is to present a model to estimate sex-specific genetic effects on physical activity (PA) levels and sedentary behaviour (SB) using three generation families. Methods: The sample consisted of 100 families covering three generations from Portugal. PA and SB were assessed via the International Physical Activity Questionnaire short form (IPAQ-SF). Sex-specific effects were assessed by genotype-by-sex interaction (GSI) models and sex-specific heritabilities. GSI effects and heterogeneity were tested in the residual environmental variance. SPSS 17 and SOLAR v. 4.1 were used in all computations. Results: The genetic component for PA and SB domains varied from low to moderate (11 % to 46 %), when analyzing both genders combined. We found GSI effects for vigorous PA (p = 0.02) and time spent watching television (WT) (p < 0.001) that showed significantly higher additive genetic variance estimates in males. The heterogeneity in the residual environmental variance was significant for moderate PA (p = 0.02), vigorous PA (p = 0.006) and total PA (p = 0.001). Sex-specific heritability estimates were significantly higher in males only for WT, with a male-to-female difference in heritability of 42.5 (95 % confidence interval: 6.4, 70.4). Conclusions: Low to moderate genetic effects on PA and SB traits were found. Results from the GSI model show that there are sex-specific effects in two phenotypes, VPA and WT with a stronger genetic influence in males.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number58
    JournalBMC Medical Genetics
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


    • Heritability
    • Physical activity
    • Sedentary behaviour
    • Sex effects

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Genetics
    • Genetics(clinical)


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