Genetic and environmental factors in associations between infant growth and adult cardiometabolic risk profile in twins
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BACKGROUND: Accelerated infant growth is associated with an altered, mostly adverse adult cardiometabolic risk profile. The importance of genetic and environmental factors to these associations is unclear. OBJECTIVE: The objective was to examine the importance of genetic and environmental factors in the associations between infant growth and adult cardiometabolic risk factors (anthropometrics, lipids, insulin sensitivity, leptin, blood pressure, and fibrinogen) in twins. DESIGN: Cardiometabolic risk factors were assessed in 240 twin pairs (aged 18-34 y) from the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey. Infant growth was defined as change in weight z score. We regressed intrapair differences in growth during 4 growth windows (0-1, 1-6, 6-12, and 12-24 mo) against intrapair differences in the risk factors in monozygotic and dizygotic twins separately. RESULTS: Within monozygotic twin pairs only, associations between infant growth and most adult lipids, glucose, leptin, and blood pressure (eg, systolic blood pressure: b = 5.95 mm Hg per change in z score, P = 0.01 in monozygotic twins; b = -1.64, P = 0.82 in dizygotic twins from 12 to 24 mo) were found. Within dizygotic twin pairs only, associations between growth and triglycerides and fibrinogen (eg, fibrinogen: b = 0.07 ln mg/dL per change in z score, P = 0.31 in monozygotic twins; b = 0.79, P = 0.01 in dizygotic twins from 0 to 1 mo) were identified. Most associations showed a detrimental effect of accelerated growth, but beneficial associations were also identified (eg, total-to-high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol ratio: b = -0.22 per change in z score from 1 to 6 mo, P = 0.008 in monozygotic twins). CONCLUSION: Our data showed that environmental factors play a role in the associations between infant growth and most adult lipids, glucose, leptin, and blood pressure, whereas genetic factors are involved regarding triglycerides and fibrinogen.