Direct estimates of the genomic contributions to blood pressure heritability within a population-based cohort (ARIC)

Elias Salfati, Alanna C. Morrison, Eric Boerwinkle, Aravinda Chakravarti

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25 Scopus citations


Blood pressure (BP) is a heritable trait with multiple environmental and genetic contributions, with current heritability estimates from twin and family studies being ~ 40%. Here, we use genome-wide polymorphism data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study to estimate BP heritability from genomic relatedness among cohort members. We utilized data on 6,365,596 and 9,578,528 genotyped and imputed common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), in 8,901 European ancestry (EA) and 2,860 African Ancestry (AA) ARIC participants, respectively, and a mixed linear model for analyses, to make four observations. First, for BP measurements, the heritability is ~20%/~50% and ~27%/~39% for systolic (SBP)/diastolic (DBP) blood pressure in European and African ancestry individuals, respectively, consistent with prior studies. Second, common variants with allele frequency 10% recapitulate most of the BP heritability in these data. Third, the vast majority of BP heritability varies by chromosome, depending on its length, and is largely concentrated in noncoding genomic regions annotated as DNaseI hypersensitive sites (DHSs). Fourth, the majority of this heritability arises from loci not harboring currently known cardiovascular and renal genes. Recent meta-analyses of large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and admixture mapping have identified ~50 loci associated with BP and hypertension (HTN), and yet they account for only a small fraction (~2%) of the heritability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0133031
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 10 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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