Specific Genetic Influences on Nighttime Blood Pressure

X. Xu, S. Su, F.A. Treiber, R. Vlietinck, R. Fagard, C. Derom, Marij GIelen, R.J.F. Loos, H. Snieder, X. Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review



Nighttime blood pressure (BP) has been shown to be superior to daytime BP in predicting hypertension related target organ damage and cardiac mortality. In our Georgia Cardiovascular Twin Study, we showed that apart from the genes that also influence daytime BP, specific genetic determinants explained 44% and 67% of the nighttime systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) heritabilities, respectively. Here, we determined whether these results could be confirmed in a much larger twin cohort of young adults with 24-hour ambulatory BP measurements.


Ambulatory BP was available in 703 white twins (308 pairs and 87 singletons, aged 18-34 years, 50% males) from the Prenatal Programming Twin Study. A bivariate quantitative genetic twin model was used to analyze daytime and nighttime BP. We conducted a meta-analysis to compare and integrate results from the 2 twin cohorts.


Model fitting showed no sex differences for any of the measures. Heritabilities were 0.60 and 0.51 for SBP and 0.54 and 0.46 for DBP at daytime and nighttime. The specific heritability due to novel genetic effects emerging during the nighttime was 0.21 for SBP and 0.26 for DBP, which comprised 41% and 57% of the total nighttime heritability for SBP and DBP, respectively. Meta-analysis confirmed absence of cohort differences with very similar combined results.


In addition to genes that influence both daytime and nighttime BP, a large part of the heritability is explained by genes that specifically influence BP at night.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-443
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Hypertension
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • nighttime blood pressure
  • heritability
  • meta-analysis
  • twin study

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