The effect of shared genetic and environmental factors on periodontal disease parameters in untreated adult siblings in Guatemala

Sherie A. Dowsett, Luis Archila, Tatiana Foroud, Daniel Koller, George J. Eckert, Michael J. Kowolik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Increasing evidence supports the role of genetic factors in susceptibility to infectious diseases, including chronic periodontitis. The role of genetic factors in phenotypic expression can be estimated from the degree of resemblance between relatives, as compared with that of unrelated members of a population. Heritability is an estimate of the proportion of total phenotypic variation of a quantitative trait, which is attributable to genetic factors, and is based on the variance within versus between family members. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is a familial basis for periodontal disease status in an untreated population in Guatemala using heritability estimates as a measure of familial clustering of disease. Methods: One-hundred and thirteen adult subjects (including both siblings and spouse pairs), age range 35 to 60 years, participated in this study. Full-mouth periodontal examinations were performed and heritability estimates were calculated for mean plaque score, mean gingival index (GI), probing depth (PD), and clinical attachment level (CAL). Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated using the same parameters for spouses to determine whether a common family environment in adulthood plays a role in disease expression. Results: Only in the case of mean plaque score and mean recession score were heritability estimates significantly above zero at α = 0.05. For spouse pairs, mean GI score, mean PD, and percentage of sites of PD ≥5 mm showed a statistically significant ICC. Conclusions: These results lead us to reject the hypothesis that there is substantial heritability for periodontal disease expression in this population. This may be due to an underlying lack of genetic variation within this sample or may indicate that, compared with the role of environmental factors, the genetic contribution to periodontal disease phenotypes is relatively minor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1168
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of periodontology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002


  • Communicable diseases/ethnology
  • Family characteristics
  • Genetics, population
  • Hereditary diseases
  • Periodontal diseases/ethnology
  • Periodontitis/ethnology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics


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