Whole-Genome Approach Discovers Novel Genetic and Nongenetic Variance Components Modulated by Lifestyle for Cardiovascular Health

Xuan Zhou, Julius van der Werf, Kristin Carson-Chahhoud, Guiyan Ni, John McGrath, Elina Hyppönen, S. Hong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background Both genetic and nongenetic factors can predispose individuals to cardiovascular risk. Finding ways to alter these predispositions is important for cardiovascular disease prevention. Methods and Results We used a novel whole-genome approach to estimate the genetic and nongenetic effects on-and hence their predispositions to-cardiovascular risk and determined whether they vary with respect to lifestyle factors such as physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and dietary intake. We performed analyses on the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) Study (N=6896-7180) and validated findings using the UKBB (UK Biobank, N=14 076-34 538). Lifestyle modulation was evident for many cardiovascular traits such as body mass index and resting heart rate. For example, alcohol consumption modulated both genetic and nongenetic effects on body mass index, whereas smoking modulated nongenetic effects on heart rate, pulse pressure, and white blood cell count. We also stratified individuals according to estimated genetic and nongenetic effects that are modulated by lifestyle factors and showed distinct phenotype-lifestyle relationships across the stratified groups. Finally, we showed that neglecting lifestyle modulations of cardiovascular traits would on average reduce single nucleotide polymorphism heritability estimates of these traits by a small yet significant amount, primarily owing to the overestimation of residual variance. Conclusions Lifestyle changes are relevant to cardiovascular disease prevention. Individual differences in the genetic and nongenetic effects that are modulated by lifestyle factors, as shown by the stratified group analyses, implies a need for personalized lifestyle interventions. In addition, single nucleotide polymorphism-based heritability of cardiovascular traits without accounting for lifestyle modulations could be underestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e015661
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiovascular traits
  • genotype–lifestyle interaction
  • lifestyle
  • residual–lifestyle interaction
  • whole‐genome approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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