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Calcif Tissue Int. 2007 Apr;80(4):244-50. Epub 2007 Apr 13.

Relationship between vascular calcification and bone mineral density in the Old-order Amish.

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Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland, 660 W. Redwood Street, Room 492, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Vascular calcification and osteoporosis are common age-related processes that are influenced by both genetic and nongenetic factors. Whether common genes underlie these processes is not known. We measured coronary artery calcification (CAC), aortic calcification (AC), and bone mineral density (BMD) in 682 men and women from large Old-Order Amish families. We assessed the heritabilities of these traits and then evaluated, using variance decomposition procedures, whether variation in the traits was influenced by a common set of genes (i.e., pleiotropy). Significant heritabilities were detected for BMD of the femoral neck and spine (0.65, 0.63) and CAC and AC (0.43, 0.42). Mean BMD did not differ significantly across quartiles of either CAC or AC in either sex. In neither the total group nor any single subgroup (men, women, postmenopausal women) did any of the genetic or environmental correlations between BMD and vascular calcification achieve statistical significance. However, subjects with a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events had significantly lower BMD at the femoral neck compared to subjects who reported no prior history of CVD (age-, sex-, body mass index-, and family structure-adjusted P = 0.003). We detected no evidence for shared genes affecting the joint distribution of bone and vascular calcification. However, our results do reveal a lower BMD in subjects with a prior history of CVD in the Old-Order Amish.

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