Segregation analysis of cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory stressors

Li Shu Chuan Cheng, Dorit Carmelli, Steven Hunt, Roger R. Williams

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19 Citations (Scopus)


To better understand the contribution of major gene influences to individual differences in cardiovascular reactivity, we performed a segregation analysis on blood pressure responses to two laboratory tasks, mental arithmetic and bicycle exercise. The study population consisted of 1,451 adults (age ≤18 years) who were members of 81 Utah pedigrees. Only 864 members performed the bicycle task because persons age 60 years or older or with heart disease were excluded. Blood pressure reactivity to mental arithmetic was defined as change from resting values, and reactivity to the bicycle task was defined as the difference between maximum blood pressure during exercise and resting values adjusted for the individual's workload. Complex segregation analysis and likelihood procedures were used to test for a major gene effect controlling blood pressure reactivity to each task. Two modifiers of the penetrance, age and sex, were considered parameters in these models. We found that diastolic blood pressure (DBP) but not systolic blood pressure reactivities to the mental arithmetic and bicycle exercise tasks were controlled by major gene effects. The best-fitting model, however, differed for the two tasks. For DBP reactivity to mental arithmetic, a major codominant model with gene frequency 0.10 was the best-fitting model; for the bicycle task, the best-fitting model was a mixed recessive model with gene frequency 0.21. Sex differences in DBP reactivity were significant in both tasks; the effect of age was significant only for the mental arithmetic task. These results suggest a significant genetic component for DBP reactivity to laboratory stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalGenetic Epidemiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes



  • DBP reactivity
  • family study
  • genetic component

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Epidemiology

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